The Boulevard Woodgrill

A friendly, crowd-pleasing place for American classics.

From May 2004

Having succeeded with good pizzas and pastas, the owners of Faccia Luna have moved up. They have opened an American restaurant, the Boulevard Woodgrill, with a varied and engaging menu, practically next door to one of their pizzerias in a busy section of Arlington. The premises are airy and open, with large windows occupying two of the four walls and a long bar on a third. At the rear of the dining room is a busy open kitchen. There is lots of wood, blond on the wall, darker for the tables and chairs. The lighting includes blue and red neon lights in the recessed ceiling.

The menu is a hodgepodge, but a good hodgepodge. Take the appetizers–fried calamari, jerk chicken wings, chicken quesadilla, panko-crusted shrimp, and a hot dip of crab, spinach, and artichokes. There is no theme–the restaurant gives the feeling that the kitchen tries everything, and what's good finds its way onto the menu. In each case the ingredients appear to be top-of-the line and fresh. All the appetizers measured up to expectations and are fairly priced at $6.95 and $7.95.

There are a couple of one-person salads and a half dozen that could provide starters for several or a main course for one. The seven-leaf green salad, one of the small ones, was particularly good. The mixed greens were fresh, and the vinaigrette neatly coated the greens. Providing brightness to palate and eye were currants, dried cranberries, and Danish bleu cheese.

The 20 main courses are divided between fresh seafood and meat. Most expensive at $20.95 is a wood-grilled Black Angus New York strip, 12 ounces of well-trimmed, tender meat, which arrived at the table cooked as ordered on both occasions it was tried. The accompaniments were good–buttermilk mashed potatoes with grilled asparagus and balsamic mushroom butter. The fried potatoes are even better–fresh cut, crisp, pencil thin, and served with the skin.

Pork chops, cooked medium, were very tender. Wood-grilled baby back ribs with a glaze of molasses and rum were tender and delicious. A daily special of blackened rib eye would have been flawless if it had been better trimmed; a shallot-tarragon demi-glace added a nice touch.

Just about every familiar fish appears on the menu–grouper, cod, swordfish, shark, trout, tuna, and salmon. They are all fresh and most are wild rather than farm-raised. The salmon is flown in from Bergen, Norway, and the grouper from Guayaquil, Ecuador. The crab in the crabcake is lump, and the seasonings minimal. Most of the fish dishes are prepared simply, with at most a glaze or a lightly applied vinaigrette–mimosa on the salmon, citrus-miso on the shark and on a special of Florida red snapper, and sun-dried tomato and saffron butter on the trout. Given the quality of the fish, the prices–under $20–are reasonable.

Desserts are very good and well priced at $3.50 to $5.75. The winner was the New York-style cheesecake, dense and smooth with a graham-cracker crust and a raspberry coulis.

The wine list, though not long, is carefully chosen and reasonably priced. Most of the 32 wines are in the $20-to-$29 range, with several in the teens and a few above $30. Seven countries are represented on the list. Ten beers on draft are available.

Saturdays and Sundays a special brunch menu offers some of the standard menu items along with traditional brunch items. A private room seating up to 120 is available for private parties. On-street parking is limited, but there are three parking lots within two blocks.