Globe South Dining Out

Top-notch food, family-friendly

May 17, 2009
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Polcari's Bridgwaye Inn
1265 Ferry St., Marshfield
Open daily for lunch starting at 11:30 a.m.; dinner starts at 4 p.m.
All major credit cards
Takeout available
Free valet parking
Accessible to the handicapped
No reservations

Polcari's Bridgwaye Inn in Marshfield is the kind of place that makes you feel at home the minute you walk in the door. It has all the elements of the kinds of restaurants I fondly remember my parents taking us to when we were kids: casual, comfortable, and family-friendly, with top-notch food.

That the Bridgwaye has a familiar feel is no accident. Owner Tony Polcari bought the well-known Marshfield landmark at the foot of the Humarock Bridge in 2007 and completely renovated the inside. Tony's father, Francis, and uncle John had operated the Bridgwaye for 30 years, but the family sold it in 2001 after Francis' death.

"I grew up vacuuming this place," Tony says with obvious pride as he looked around his 134-seat restaurant. Today his mother, Debbie, works a few days a week as a hostess, and many of his father's former employees now work for him.

We went the Saturday night before Mother's Day, a busy night for restaurants, and there was a line out the door. We were happy to get a drink at the bar and bring it into the enclosed waiting area as we waited our turn. Big windows along two sides of the restaurant overlook a picturesque marina and North River; a huge wrap-around bar anchors the room.

The menu is large, and each person in our party of six (including a couple of picky eaters) quickly made choices from the wide variety offered.

For starters, we shared an order of baby back ribs ($9), scallops wrapped in bacon ($8), and the Caprese salad ($7), which was one of the day's specials. The kids loved the tangy sauce on the ribs, and the scallops were generously sized and positively succulent in their crispy bacon wrapping. The tomato, basil, and buffalo mozzarella in the Caprese salad was fresh and beautifully complemented by the drizzled balsamic reduction.

Two of our children each ordered a small brick oven pizza, though one of the oversized smalls would have been more than adequate to feed them. We ended up with plenty of leftover Hawaiian ($8) and pepperoni pizza ($8) for the next day's lunch. Both pizzas had a thin crust and were generously loaded with toppings.

Another child made a meal of the super nachos appetizer ($7), an enormous heap of the classic blend of tortilla chips, cheese, beef, tomatoes, sour cream, and guacamole, and ended up bringing more than half of it home.

We couldn't resist ordering the seafood pie ($19), another special, and were not disappointed. Fresh shrimp, scallops, haddock, and lobster meat were sautéed in a lobster sauce and topped with seafood crumbs and baked. It was served with cheesy potatoes and a side of vegetables and was the kind of dish you think about for days afterward.

The restaurant uses the same lobster sauce for its popular Lazy Man's Lobster Pie ($18), a regular feature on the menu. I would make a special trip for the seafood pie, and a friend told me she feels the same way about the Bridgwaye's baked stuffed lobster ($22), an item that frequently appears as a special.

We also tried the New York strip Gorgonzola ($18), a flavorful 14-ounce cut that was topped with a generous dollop of Gorgonzola butter and served with vegetables and potato.

The lobster salad ($18) was fresh and delicious and not overwhelmed by mayonnaise and other seasonings like so many are. It was served with a generous portion of onion rings.

We were much too full for dessert, but ordered some anyway - it was almost Mother's Day, after all. The kids adored fried dough bites ($4), which were rolled in cinnamon sugar and served nice and hot. They were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside - just as they ought to be. For the adults, our server recommended the lava cake ($6). The dense, dark cake was rich and was made even better by the chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream that came alongside.

On a subsequent visit to the Bridgwaye on a weekday afternoon, I spied ladies lunching in the dining room near the windows and men eating at the bar. With its welcoming atmosphere, terrific food, and reasonable prices, the Bridgwaye has something for everyone and is a place I see my family returning to again and again.