There are a lot of Irish pubs in Boston? You don’t say. But where are the best Irish pubs in town? The debate might ignite a drunken brawl or two, but brand-spanking new Eugene O’Neill’s in Forest Hills shouldn’t expect too many haters. This place has some serious charm.
O’Neill’s opened last month on Washington Street, across from the Forest Hills T stop, courtesy of restaurateur John Jacobs, who recently unveiled the Irish-themed eatery Napper Tandy’s in Roslindale. Jacob and his wife Niamh have also owned and operated the franchised Napper Tandy’s in Norwood for nearly a decade.
“Jamaica Plain seemed like the right place for us,” says the affable Jacob. “There’s a great neighborhood vibe here, and this is the type of place I think Forest Hills needed,” he adds.
Eugene O’Neill’s, named for the Irish-American playwright who rests at Forest Hills Cemetery—just steps away from the newly-opened 65-seat pub—feels as authentic and aged as its namesake. A well-stocked mahogany bar punctuates the airy, massive space boasting coveted brick-exposed walls and high ceilings. The old-timey (perfunctory) Irish-themed kitsch isn’t forced or obnoxious, and feels perfectly at home with four modern large-screen televisions.
The contemporary pub menu may seem more TGIFridays than Temple Bar, but doesn’t disappoint. Chef Marc Distolfo, formally of Norwood’s Joe and Maria’s, bangs out some serious comfort food—bourbon-glazed turkey tips, classic burgers with hand-cut fries, creatively-topped pizzas and pasta Alfredo are menu standouts. Old country offerings include Shepard’s pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash and vegetarian curry. The classic Caesar salad is stellar.
“Burgers are always hot,” says Jacobs, “And pizza will always be a pleaser. We think our menu matches the neighborhood and it’s what people are wanting and looking for.”
Eugene O’Neill’s seems at once new and familiar. Warm, comforting and comfortable, this shiny new pub may breathe new life into an otherwise sleepy Forest Hills neighborhood. It’s another Irish pub in a city, well, full of Irish pubs. But this joint, straight out of the gate, certainly seems like one worth fighting for.