Ever since Nick Frattaroli opened Ward 8 in late 2013, he’s been eyeing a spot for his second restaurant. “The second one is tough because if you do a bad second space, that can be a killer,” Frattaroli says. But he thinks he’ll have a hit when North Square Oyster opens this spring. “In and around the area, everyone’s doing an Italian-American type spot, but this was always my favorite type of restaurant—with seafood, a strong raw bar and a good cocktail program. When the space came up and we were approached with it, we felt like the concept was right.”
Led by Douglas Rodrigues (Clio, Liquid Art House), the kitchen will turn out a menu that starts with small-to-medium plates such as a Scituate lobster pie and the requisite oysters. There will also be an “on bread” section with a fish sandwich, a burger and two types of lobster rolls (mayo and brown butter). An entree section will include dishes such as stuffed rigatoni with sea urchin. Rodrigues says that although he’ll use a lot of seafood from New England, he’ll also source fish from California and Japan.
“There are crudos on the menu, and I don’t want to exactly do a cod crudo. … You’re limited to how much fish from the New England waters that people actually want to eat. There’s only so much mackerel you can jam down somebody’s throat,” Rodrigues says. “We’re going to keep it a little edgier than you might expect. I don’t want to do hardcore New England, with baked beans and hot dogs and lobster or molasses, but lobster pie is a classic dish.”
Ward 8 general manager Mike Wyatt will oversee a bar program that showcases a lot of New England spirits, only Mass.-based beers and a white-heavy wine list. Rodrigues will whip up a few desserts daily, including a treat featuring pork belly, and plans call for brunch service to start soon after opening. “I think it’s going to be a great setting for brunch,” Frattaroli says.
As for that setting, North Square Oyster sits two doors down from the Paul Revere House on the Freedom Trail, overlooking the square with open-air windows on the first floor. That floor is drenched with white from floor to ceiling and features marble tables tallying seats for 30. A narrow hallway leads to a separate space with a nine-seat bar. The 70-seat second floor has dark woods, Edison-style lights and a few semicircle banquettes with a view of the square, as well as a five-seat bar tucked in a far corner.
“We wanted to play off the history of the square,” says director of operations Justin Power. “So we kept it a little darker upstairs for a Colonial feel. Up here at night, it’ll be romantic and cozier.”
Frattaroli hopes the atmosphere will be similar to the vibe of Ward 8, and with plans for a third restaurant—a Mexican place in the former Grand Canal space—he hopes North Square Oyster is the second piece of a budding restaurant empire.
“The focus is getting this open, and then we’ll go over there and get that going by the end of the summer,” Frattaroli says. “It’s three concepts that are all very different, but we want them to feel like a family.”
North Square Oyster 5 North Square, Boston northsquareoyster.com