WGBH's Henry Santoro interviewed Marc Orfaly, executive chef at Reel House. Below is an edited version of their conversation. To listen to the entire interview, click on the audio player above.
Henry Santoro: Good morning and welcome to Henry in the Hub. Not sure if you've noticed, but the beautification of East Boston has definitely arrived. It began several years ago with the build up of the Charlestown Navy Yard, and now several high-end living spaces have been added to the landscape of East Boston. And when you add living spaces, you add people. And when you add people, the restaurants will follow. Enter Reel House. That's R-e-e-l House, as in fishing reel. It's a seafood-focused restaurant and Marc Orfaly is the executive chef, and it's a pleasure to welcome Marc to WGBH and Henry In the Hub. Welcome.
Marc Orfaly: Thank you. Pleasure to be here.
HS: Now, you describe Reel House in Boston Magazine as Nantucket meets Miami. How so?
MO: So we have the sophistication of something you would find in Nantucket — great seafood restaurant with kind of the urban grit of Miami, also known as East Boston. So it's a great combination of worlds colliding of the two.
HS: The setting is nothing short of spectacular — you're located in a high-end apartment complex. It's called the Eddy, appropriately enough. Amazing water views, and soon enough folks will be able to take a boat over from downtown Boston to your establishment. But it wasn't always that way. Can you talk about the rise of East Boston?
MO: Sure. I mean, just like South Boston — 10 years ago people thought no one would go there — you got to figure anything that has waterfront views at some point is going to have value just like Brooklyn does for New York. This is nothing short of that.
HS: And there's a lot of ethnicity, there's a lot of art space there as well. So it's really got it all.
MO: You got a really great mix of both things and I love the local flair. It's extremely easy to get to. The Blue line or through the Callahan.
HS: [East Boston] is a lot more than just triple deckers.
MO: That's right.
HS: What are you doing with food at the Reel House that you weren't doing at your other restaurants — Pigalle and The Beehive?
MO: I'm of Armenian descent. I've integrated a lot of flavors that I grew up with, with the savvy of modernized cuisine today.
HS: Well, who did the cooking in your house?
MO: My grandmother. Mostly.
HS: And did you hang in the kitchen and watch that happen?
MO: I did. I was interested why my eyes always watered with the onion, and I was always just kind of curious to what was going on and how things went from A to B to finished product.
HS: Tell us what goes into your seafood charcuterie board?
MO: So this is one of our signature items. A lot of people do, obviously, a meat charcuterie, so we thought a seafood charcuterie would be incredibly apropos. We have a combination of smoked, cured and raw seafood. For this, I'm doing a smoked trout patte, we have smoked blue fish. I have a za'tar crusted tuna loin, calamari salad and a poached octopus salad.
MO: And we garnish the plate ... we always have different house made pickles that we use. We have delicious homemade Old Bay potato chips that are really great. It's a really fun dish.
HS: There is a really large and sprawling outdoor patio at Reel House where you can sit, you can dine and you can hear that water bounce off the rocks of Boston Harbor. But inside the Reel House — it's designed like a yacht in there.
MO: We wanted to give the restaurant a real nautical theme. I think they really knocked it out of the park with the design and decor. Everyone brings their own unique quality to the space and it's been a fantastic team to work with.
HS: The restaurant is Reel House, located at 10 New Street in East Boston. Chef Marc Orfaly is the executive chef. Marc, thank you so much.
MO: Thank you for having me.