GLOUCESTER - Magnolia 525 Tavern is the new local hangout everyone is flocking to. It has all the ingredients of the perfect neighborhood restaurant: great food, great prices, great specials and comfortable, friendly atmosphere. It's located in picturesque Magnolia, a seaside village in the City of Gloucester.
"We have a beautiful rocky coastline," said Catherine Hull, who helps run the 525. "You can watch the sunrise and the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. We have a beautiful view of downtown Boston. You can see as far away as Scituate and glimpses of Cape Cod on clear days, from just down the street."
The menu is loaded with fresh takes on comfort food classics. The man making those mouthwatering dishes is Executive Chef Justin Plumadore, who has always wanted to run a kitchen.
"I've loved to cook since I was a kid," he said. "The hecticness of it. I have to be creative, and sometimes I have to be creative on the fly."
The food at Magnolia 525 is the kind of stuff you just want to eat every night: pizzas and pastas, big burgers and beautiful roast chicken. But every meal should start with an appetizer, like the thick cut Tavern Crisps topped with bacon shallot crème fraiche, or the addictive homemade Lobster Rangoons.
"We take fresh local lobster, cream cheese, and scallions and some lemon zest. Mix that together, wrap it in a wonton skin, deep fry it, and we serve it with my take on a duck sauce," Chef Justin explained.
"They have a great flavor of lobster in them, along with the cream cheese, the scallions. You bite into those, and you're bound to order a second order of them, almost tempted to skip an entree and just eat Lobster Rangoons all night long," said Catherine.
Of course skipping an entree isn't really an option when there's stuff on the menu like Roasted Chicken atop root vegetables, Classic Meatloaf with mashed potatoes, and made-from-scratch Bolognaise.
"There's nothing that quite can replicate homemade pasta. We make all of our pasta right here in the house," Catherine said. "He makes it with a pappardelle, which is a really thick, thick cut of fettucine. The pasta itself is absolutely beautiful tasting. The bolognaise sauce itself, it has beef and pork in it. And when you mix together this really hearty meat sauce with a really thick pappardelle cut, it's absolute award winning deliciousness."
Upscale tavern favorites are the name of the game, like a big bowl of Mussels, an ever-changing Burger of the Week, an outrageous open faced Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich, and the top selling Root Beer and Soy Sauce Steak Tips with Loaded Mashed Potatoes.
"The marinade that Justin uses is very unique. It's a ginger, root beer and soy sauce mix, which may sound a little funny on the outside, but it makes a fantastic marinade," Catherine promised. "It's perfectly cooked. It has a great sear on the outside. Everybody loves a steak tip that's a little crispier on the outside, and you have the inside which is just melt-in-your-mouth perfect."
Rounding out the menu at Magnolia 525 Tavern are some awesome thin crust pizzas, but for an old school pizzeria treat you simply don't see enough of around here, order the Stromboli.
"I grew up in upstate New York. Stromboli is in every pizza shop," Justin said. "It's a rolled Italian calzone. It's the same pizza dough that we use for our pizzas; gets rolled out, a little bit of our housemade sauce, cheese, prosciutto, pepperoni; and everything is kind of encased and rolled in the pizza dough, and baked in the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes."
Once the Stromboli is sliced and served, customers are always impressed.
"Their reaction is 'Yum!' You see the meat and cheese just melting together. You'll see other tables saying 'what did they get?' and it starts a chain reaction of orders once a Stromboli comes out," Catherine said. "Just the smell of the fresh cooked bread, the meat and the cheese and the sauce all together, it's a fantastic combination."
Finish your meal with an Amaretto Spiced Cake, Pumpkin Bread Sundae, or baked to order Chocolate Lava Cake and you'll understand why everyone from the neighborhood is always here, no matter the occasion.
"They come here because it's a small, comfy, cozy, and beautiful tavern with delicious food," said Catherine. "You can meet friends here. You can bring your family here. You can bring your children here. You can go out on a great date night here."
You can find Magnolia 525 Tavern at 12 Lexington Avenue in Gloucester, and online at 525magnolia.com.
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