First Bite: Abby Park

By Amy Traverso | Boston Magazine |

Judging by the size of the crowds at Abby Park, you’d guess the locals had been starving for fine dining—or any dining at all. You’d be right. For a well-to-do ‘burb that boasts every commuter-friendly feature (covetable homes, good schools, easy highway access), Milton has long lacked the polished bistros and lively watering holes its urban neighbors take for granted.

This summer, it got two: 88 Wharf and, a few weeks later, Abby Park. The latter is already claiming a dedicated following, drawn no doubt by executive chef Michael Pirini, who made his name at top Cape tables like Abbicci and the Red Pheasant. His sure hand with seafood shows in dishes like lobster cavatelli with lemony mascarpone, and roasted striped bass with pea succotash (a staff favorite). It’s surprising how rare it is to find perfectly cooked fish in Boston, and its appearance in this off-the-beaten-track location is a delight.

True to its multipurpose role as dining destination, snack-and-cocktail spot, and family restaurant, Abby Park has put together a well-stocked menu. You’ll find gourmet flatbreads (lobster with potato and corn; sausage with herbed ricotta and tomato) and old reliables including grilled rib-eye and double-cut pork chops. The generous selection of sides is also worth checking out, especially the creamed spinach with Gorgonzola and the truffled mac and cheese (the latter of which, given its steak-accompanying ubiquity, may be this decade’s twice-baked potato).

The room, which centers on a boisterous bar, is sleek and warm, with plenty of red accents. It may feel a bit predictable to anyone who’s visited a good American bistro, but so what? It would be silly for such a neighborhood spot to call attention to itself with avant-garde flourishes. Instead, the Abby Park crowd—a jovial mix of couples, special-occasion family groups, and well-coiffed fortysomethings on a girls’ night out—gets to focus on the conversation and the food, and the welcome fact that you don’t have to brave I-93 in order to have a tasty meal.

550 Adams St., Milton, 617-696-8700,

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