April 20th, 2010
Specialty: cocktails, High Life
Prices: Low to moderate
Atmosphere: Retro but not kitschy. Top-notch hospitality without the VIP price tag. Unofficial motto: Be yourself and have a good time. See Best Boston bars for address and contact info.
Remember those cool kids in high school or college who got along with everyone and threw the best parties? They grew up and opened a bar called Trina’s Starlite Lounge (3 Beacon St., Somerville).
Josh Childs, Trina and Beau Sturm, and Jay Bellao have collective decades of experience tending bar in Boston, and Childs is still co-owner of one of Boston’s most beloved establishments, Silvertone. This group’s level of hospitality is right up there with the city’s top-notch dining rooms, but VIP treatment at the Starlite comes dressed in T-shirts and tattoos and for the price of a hot dog and a High Life. And it comes without anyone looking harried; the staff often seems to be having as good a time as their guests. Many of those guests, in fact, are fellow restaurant industry folk who made this bar a favored haunt almost immediately after it opened in September 2009. The Starlite’s Industry Brunch on Mondays is testament to the goodwill between Childs, Sturm, Ballao & Co. and their colleagues. (Monday brunch is open to the general public, too.)
The drink list changes seasonally and tilts more toward accessibility than artisanal purity. That said, it doesn’t dumb things down. Even cocktail geeks can find items that grab them, like the Tony Montana (Pyrat rum, Benedictine, Carpano Antica, orange bitters, $9). Also, the bartenders have the skills — along with the quality spirits and house-made mixers — to accommodate off-menu requests. As for beer, High Life has the kind of cult status at the Starlite that PBR enjoyed a few years ago. You can even order it by the bucket (five pony-sized bottles for $11). Blessedly, there are a few craft beer options (Stone Pale Ale, Saison Du Pont) for those times when you want a brew that doesn’t taste like melted Crayons. The wine list is decent, too, and the food is classic American comfort fare like fried chicken and buttermilk waffles, homemade soup and the wacky DOTD (dog of the day).
Oh, another good thing about the Starlite, besides its affordability, is that there are two separate bars and dining areas with two distinct personalities. For all the regulars who have adopted this lounge as their living room away from home, this is a great way to mix things up.