Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Waterfront Cafe [CLOSED: Replaced by Rocco's Cucina and Bar]

450 Commercial Street, Boston, MA 02109
(617) 523-0613 Find location!

Photo of the Waterfront Cafe, Boston, MA Tourists and locals alike know the North End of Boston as a place to get Italian food, and indeed, there is good reason for this; Italian trattorias, cafes, and bistros line the narrow streets of this Boston neighborhood, helping to make it a popular destination. But the North End isn't all about Italian restaurants, as there are a handful of other dining spots scattered throughout the neighborhood. And some of these places are pretty decent, including the Waterfront Cafe, which is a local watering hole that also happens to have some very good bar food.

The Waterfront Cafe bills itself as an Italian pub, but it really is a bit more than that. Part sports bar, part neighborhood beer joint, and part comfort food joint, the Waterfront Cafe is a place that pleases on many fronts. The exterior of the restaurant is a bit on the plain side, making it easy to miss, but once you walk through the heavy barred door, you encounter a fairly attractive bar and dining room area, albeit with a 1970s feel to it (and the sound system adds to this vibe, often playing songs from Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Rush, and the like).

There are some excellent dishes at the Waterfront Cafe, including the outstanding steak tips, which have a charred, smoky flavor that you might find at a backyard barbecue. Another entree worth getting is the broiled haddock, which is buttery and rich. Calamari and chicken wings are decent choices as well, and the sandwiches are popular items here, including the huge angus burger and the eggplant sub that is so big and messy that it needs to be eaten with a knife and fork. But perhaps it is the pizza that is the true standout dish at the Waterfront Cafe. Fairly large (this is not a personal bar pizza), with a thin crust and a good amount of corn meal on the bottom, this may actually be one of the best pizzas in the North End (though by no means at the level of Regina's.

Folks who come to the North End of Boston for dinner might not be interested in pub grub and bottles of beer while watching a local game on the tube. But this writer finds himself going to this friendly little tavern time and time again, partly because it is never crowded but mainly because the food is a big step up over some of the other pubs in or near the downtown area. If you love the North End but are a bit tired of long lines and expensive veal or seafood plates, head over to the corner of Commercial and Greenough streets, where a little-known watering hole in this bustling neighborhood awaits your presence.