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Restaurant Review - Anthony’s Pier 4

Anthony's Pier 4 is being torn down for a new development. It's OK, the food is already demolished.

Anthony’s Pier 4

140 Northern Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02210-1902


A good friend sent me a note, “We’ve got to get into Anthony’s Pier 4 before they tear it down.”

It’s true, the venerable Anthony’s Pier 4 is going to be replaced by a million square foot development of park, apartments and hotels by New England Development.  Once the highest grossing restaurant in the United States, Anthony’s has struggled to keep up with the latest trends in the area, relying on the original 1963 waterfront location as the key draw.  Now, there are many waterfront dining places, including Del Friscos, Legal Harborside, and Smith & Wollensky.

Anthony’s has always been a place I got exposed to…whether wanting to or not.  For a year my office was across the street from the closed Anthony’s Hawthorne in Lynn, the original Anthony’s opened in 1937.  My parking was in the restaurant lot, and we paid Anthony’s Management Office directly.  The lot attendant said the Lynn restaurant simply closed, and hadn’t been touched.  So the wine and booze was still there, along with tables.

In the late 90’s as co-program chair for the Boston Society for Information Management our luncheon meetings were held at Pier 4.  “Anthony” (Anthony Athanas) would float in and out of our meetings…just standing in the back, taking it all in. 

While he passed in 2005, you just know he is still floating in and out of the facility.  And it’s good to know Anthony’s will have a place in the new development, too.  Somehow it just seems right for Anthony to remain as a part of the waterfront.  Athanas' four sons - Anthony Jr., Michael, Robert and Paul now own and operate Anthony Pier 4 Restaurants, including two other properties: Anthony’s Pier 4 Café & Hawthorne by the Sea Tavern in Swampscott, MA, and Anthony’s Cummaquid Inn in Yarmouth Port, MA and some smaller cafes.

We had some bread and marinated (pickled) mushrooms to start.  Sampling the mushrooms, one of the people in our group chuckled and observed, “American food palates have evolved.”

We started the evening with seafood appetizers of Oysters on the Half Shell, served raw with cocktail sauce and mignonette sauce, Chatham Littleneck Clams on the Half Shell, served raw with cocktail sauce and scallion-lime-ginger sauce, and a Shrimp Cocktail (iced jumbo shrimp served with Anthony's own cocktail and remoulade sauces.)  I’ve been spoiled by 111 Chop House or the Sole Proprietor where every shrimp has a nice snap to it and the cocktail sauce has horseradish in it.  These shrimp were a bit mushy.

Every meal at Anthony’s has to start with the popovers, and tonight was no exception.  The popovers were hot and tasty.

The menu hasn’t changed much in the years.  We went with lobster bisque and spinach salad to start.  The bisque was thick, thick, thick very reminiscent of a heavy tomato soup.  This bisque was served at three presidential inaugurations.  The spinach salad was well prepared.

Temperatures on the entrees were off, making the entire dinner problematic. 

One diner had fresh Yellowfin Tuna, ordered rare, served with served with mango chutney.  It came out Medium at best, and was very dry.  Half the fish was left unconsumed.

I went with the fresh swordfish, medium rare, served with tomato-olive beurre blanc.  My swordfish was just dry…well on the way to medium well.  The sauce was not light and respectful of the fish.  My dinner wasn’t finished, either.

Another diner in the group had Yellowfin Tuna, with Cajun spices.  Half the fish was raw, and the other overcooked, and was inedible to this diner (see photo.)  He called the waiter over, and the waiter exclaimed, “WOW!” and turned and walked away to get a manager.  While the manager offered to prepare another meal, this diner passed.

As we waited in that awkward silence after a meal failed, one guy said, “Well, at least I can tell my Grandmother I ate here once.”  He then proceeded to try and get another popover.

Heaven forbid you ask for more popovers!

He had to flag down the lady with the popover basket.  Once he got her attention, he asked if we could each please have another popover, circling his finger around the table like you would if asking for another round of beverages.

Well, one popover was delivered.  One.  We laughed heartily as we broke the popover up to share.

We passed on dessert and deserted the place.  The popover lady was guarding the popovers.

It’s unclear to the people we asked when Anthony’s Pier 4 would be demolished.  There is work going on in an adjacent area destined to be part of the new development.  Business was brisk, with some tour groups chowing down on lobster.  The parking attendants thought the end would be relatively quickly, while the wait staff thought a few more years.  My guess is the parking guys see who is coming and going….so sooner rather than later.

It will be a sad day when the building representing Anthony’s Pier 4 is reduced to a memory.  Since the meals are now unmemorable, let’s get to progress sooner rather than later.

If you can't get in to Anthony's Pier 4, please review the picture gallery as we took a boatload of pictures at the Pier.


Lunch Monday-Saturday 11:30AM - 3:00PM

Dinner Sunday 12:00PM - 10:00PM

Dinner Monday-Thursday 3:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Dinner Friday-Saturday 3:00PM - 11:00PM

Friday and Saturday, bar open until 11:00PM


Anthony’s Pier 4 gets a RED LIGHT – Drop by to say goodbye on your way to Liberty Wharf and Del Friscos or Legal Harborside.  Perhaps have a beverage and get a popover.

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money

The Author

Gary Kelley has lived in Westborough since 1994. His reviews are what he would tell friends, and are not an academic analysis. You can follow him @glkelley or www.garylkelley.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mary MacDonald October 27, 2012 at 10:59 PM
I ate here in the mid-80s with my parents and a college friend visiting Boston for the first time. It looks the same, the white table cloths. It sounds the same. I remember eating lobster, my friend not knowing how to eat one. Wearing bibs. I am nostalgic for the Boston I remember from my teens and 20s, and I guess Anthony's is part of that. Sad to hear it's going. The Steaming Kettle - anyone remember going there? - Globe Corner Bookstore - the original Garden... Filene's Basement - the used bookstore on some side street near Downtown Crossing that is now long gone.... more of old Boston going away! :(
Ron Goodenow October 28, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Anthony's was the scene of an enormous personal embarrassment....but in the days that happened it was a classy joint. Right after we got married in the sixties we moved to Beacon Hill and every Saturday night would get in a cab and go out to dinner. Now in those days there were only a few places worth visiting -- a great middle eastern place now gone, a fine Asian one in the Sheraton, Durgin Park, Union Oyster and Anthony's. We celebrated a planned vacation (never taken) at Anthony's and I was so happy I ordered, for the first time in my life, a second martini, consumed during the meal. That sent me to the men's pretty quickly and I remember coming out a half hour later and seeing a virtually empty restaurant with a waiter standing stiffly by my petrified wife, white napkin draped over his arm. When I emerged he walked over, gently took my arm and said "I'm sure you would like a cab, sir." I did, he got one, and we went home, never to return fearing we would be remembered. So thanks for the reminder!
Gary Kelley October 28, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Mary. I agree with you. There are some quintessential Boston icons disappearing.... I'd much rather the behemoth Boston World Trade Center be replaced than Anthony's (with good food.)
Gary Kelley October 28, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Ron, what a great personal story. Thanks for sharing. I have to ask, as you entered the cab, did the waiter whisper in your ear, "No more popovers for you?"
Ron Goodenow October 28, 2012 at 06:32 PM
No, he said something like 'if you think this was bad wait til you go to Mexico.....' :-) The other thing I seem to remember about that time is that Durgin Park was located in an area of warehouses so dark and unfriendly (almost as unfriendly as the wait staff) there was a phone right by the door where one could call a cab (numbers listed nearby). And in those days if the cab driver suspected you were flatlanders he would drive to Beacon Hill via Cambridge, meter running all the time. So you had to say something like "Beacon Hill via Cambridge Street, not Cambridge please." I don't think folks today, who seem to piss and moan a lot about Boston, have any idea of how grim it was back in the sixties before Collins and White went to work on the place. Though one can still get caught by drunks, as we did a couple of years ago near Park St. Station when idiots from Southie threw paving stones at us on the way to dinner. Menino never answered my letter. Perhaps he was insulted when I said it was safer and cleaner in New York, which it was. Went in and walked around yesterday. T'was beautiful. And one of these days I will tell the tale of our absolutely superb experience at Papa Razzi on Newbury Street. One of the most rewarding meals of our lives thanks to a general manager who not only helped our severely disabled guest beyond the pale, but fixed us up with food and service to die for. He assured us he was born and bred in Manchester, NH, not Boston....


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