Porthole Restaurant hauls in a multifarious dinner menu stocked with fresh seafood specialties alongside grilled meats and pasta specialties. Take taste buds for an initial dip into seaborne flavors with a half-dozen Blue Point oysters on the half shell ($9.98) or juicy scallops wrapped in bacon shackles ($9.25). Silverware sparkles in anticipation of slicing through succulent filet mignon ($16.98) served with choice of a potato and veggies or spearing Claire's seafood supreme ($14.98), which unites a delectable trio of lobster, shrimp, and scallops under a creamy cheese-sauce trade agreement. Pasta wranglers can corral herds of noodles including eggplant parmesan ($8.98) and shrimp scampi ($12.98), and amphibious appetites savor land-and-sea platters such as the Four by Four ($12.98)—a quartet of tempura shrimp sidled up next to four sirloin tips with an optional picket fence to keep meaty universes from colliding.
The up-close sounds of waves crashing onto Revere Beach permeate the soundscape at Antonia's at the Beach Restaurant, an eatery that embraces the dual cultures of Italy and the New England coast. The menu reflects this duality by placing Old World dishes, such as homemade ricotta gnocchi and veal parmigiana alongside maritime-influenced staples, including fried haddock and cedar-plank-smoked Atlantic salmon.
The decidedly rustic decor draws much more inspiration from the area's coastal influences, with nautical lanterns hanging from the exposed rafter beams and wooden ship's wheels fastened to the bar area's walls. Small aesthetic touches adorn the space and help capture the historically inspired ambience, including an antique sewing machine, a rotary telephone, and a dial-up modem.
Veteran executive chef, Joe Guarino of Red Rock Bistro, devised lunch, brunch, and dinner menus brimming with haute cuisine and fresh-caught seafood. Gazes wander to the restaurant's massive bay window and the expansive beachfront and picturesque skyline vistas beyond before settling on flatbread pizzas bubbling with gourmet cheeses or house-made ricotta gnocchi. Delicate sauces simmered from lemon and thyme, maple bourbon, sweet onion, and other flavors season fillets of seafood and hearty chops of steak and filet mignon. Thursday through Sunday, Red Rock celebrates life with live music, which ricochets from glasses, breaks up Super Soaker fights on the patio, and bounces out across open waters as musicians cook up the sound of blues, rock, and jazz.
Today, Victoria Station in Salem is unique—but it wasn't always. In 1970, inspired by the landmark Victoria Station in London, three Cornell Hotel School graduates created a restaurant with English touches, such as a bright-red phone booth and authentic train cars they'd turned into dining cars. They opened up in San Francisco, and the business grew. By the 1980s, there were about 100 Victoria Station locations in the United States and around the world. Johnny Cash did a stint as their spokesman.
But the company filed for bankruptcy in 1986. Its rise and fall is documented in Tom Blake's book Prime Rib and Boxcars: Whatever Happened to Victoria Station? The waterfront Salem location was the very last to open, and it's the only one left.
Today, the restaurant has gone in its own direction, drawing inspiration from both the restaurant's past and its current surroundings. Classic New England cuisine and old steak-house favorites mingle comfortably on the menu. The chefs coat haddock in a seasoned cracker crust to bake and serve with chardonnay and fresh lemon juice, and the slow-roasted prime rib that made the original restaurant famous still has a place on the menu. Diners can also order up house favorites, such as lobster mac 'n' cheese with five-cheese béchamel sauce and cornbread shallot crumbs, or they can opt for an Angus burger.
Vic's Boathouse, a bar and lounge, opened in 2010. There, diners can request a local or craft brew, order a martini, or pick from the pub menu. The bar hosts nightly live entertainment, including open-mic sessions, live musicians, and karaoke, which makes for lively evenings without the expense of hiring a DJ for family dinner.