Two years ago, restaurateur Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli decided to take on a challenge: Build a neighborhood restaurant while the neighborhood itself was still being built in the background. Hook + Line, a modern seafood restaurant and next-door market that debuted at 10 Fan Pier Boulevard in Boston’s ever-developing Seaport area this month, is the result.
The restaurant — awash in rich blue tones and other subtly nautical design touches — is a stylish powerhouse that encompasses 275 seats plus a seasonal outdoor patio. The kitchen is equipped with both a wood-fired grill and a gas oven to char, roast, and grill its way through the night, turning out a range of plates including za’atar-crusted tuna loin, roasted branzino with Calabrian chile crisp, and head-on tiger prawns served with a thick rouille sauce. But make no mistake: This is a New England seafood restaurant at its core. There are stuffies; grilled Kayem hot dogs; hot and cold lobster rolls; crispy fried Ipswich clams; and a creamy, bacon-strewn, gluten-free clam chowder in the mix, too. “The home base is always going to be the New England,” chef Mark Cina says.
Like Schlesinger-Guidelli, Cina is a Massachusetts native. His resume includes stints at former Cambridge legends Craigie Street Bistrot and Upstairs at the Pudding, Yvonne’s in Downtown Crossing, and time spent working in San Francisco at restaurants like Alta by acclaimed chef Daniel Patterson.
The Seaport is a neighborhood that is still finding its footing, although it is increasingly becoming a dining destination as buzzy new spots like glitzy supper club Grace by Nia join restaurants like Chickadee, Nautilus, and Woods Hill in balancing out the neighborhood’s chain-heavy leanings. “For a long time, I didn’t really feel that engaged with the neighborhood because I felt like the first wave of people were all these chains that didn’t interest me,” Schlesinger-Guidelli says. In fact, the space where Hook + Line now stands was supposed to be an outpost of a national chain. Spooked by the pandemic, the chain pulled out of the deal, and Schlesinger-Guidelli says that he was the only independent operator out of 10 interested parties to submit a proposal to fill the vacancy.
As they’ve been getting to know their neighbors, Schlesinger-Guidelli and Cina are upbeat about the customers they’ve started to meet and the opportunity that lies in the area. Through Hook + Line, Schlesinger-Guidelli hopes to add another anchor for the community — and, perhaps, evolve alongside the ever-growing neighborhood.