Submarines changed the course of aquatic exploration. Giving their captains the whale-like ability to subsist underwater, these innovative vessels enabled unexpected moves during expeditions and showed divers a whole new world.
Such course-changing impact is not unlike what The Nautilus first unleashed on the Nantucket dining scene in 2014. The 60-seat seafood restaurant—named for the futuristic submarine in the 1870 sci-fi adventure, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea—brought “social dining” to an island more accustomed to Ritz Cracker-topped haddock than it was to shareable small plates unbound to rules of any one cuisine.
Since then, The Nautilus has become one of the hottest tables on a destination-worthy dining scene—and it’s stamped a ticket to Boston Harbor for the trio of founding partners, chef Liam Mackey, beverage director Clinton Terry, and wine director and financial partner Stephen Bowler. In 2021, Nautilus Pier 4 docked in the Seaport District as a much larger, littoral, and even livelier outpost than the island original.
Executive chef Stephen Marcaurelle, formerly of JP tapas joint Tres Gatos, is at the helm of the new spot, stewarding fan-favorites for the mainland crowd, like the Two Hawaiian Tuna Poke and the Tempura East Coast Oyster Tacos, which redefine both “tacos” and sushi by wrapping a crispy-fried Duxbury oyster and rice in seaweed with a drizzle of zippy wasabi aioli. Seasonal specials “From the Sea” and “From the Land” teem with influences from Asian, Mediterranean, and Latin traditions. The sweet-and-spicy Heritage BBQ Pork Riblets is a new favorite: Glazed in a tamarind and smoky morita chili sauce, we suggest sopping up the sticky sauce with an order of the savory-charred Blue Crab Fried Rice. The Peking Inspired Whole Roasted Duck is a DIY delight of salty-sweet meat, fresh herbs, and pillowy steamed buns. We’ll return to Nautilus for countless celebrations over this large-format feast.
Fresh-ingredient cocktails entice us to the bar every season, whether it’s for an annual check-in with the strawberry-sweetened Blackout Barbie or a warmup from the Japanese whisky-spiked Hot Toki, which uses togarashi honey, yuzu, and clove.
Expansive and dark, with 250 seats and high, open ceilings, Nautilus Pier 4 has the feel of a mermaid’s urbane haunt. Swooshing blues, greens, and grays paint deep-sea creatures and divers across the walls. Brass fixtures around the bar and open kitchen, nautical ropes, and porthole mirrors give shipwreck-chic.
Nautilus proves you can always go deeper for culinary inspiration, and we can’t wait to see how it reels us in next.
Nearly every window seat boasts water views at Nautilus Pier 4, and there’s an expansive waterfront patio and outdoor bar during the warm seasons.
Local DJs curate the sonic experience at Nautilus Pier 4, and occasionally will share playlist links through the restaurant’s social channels.
The Tempura East Coast Oyster Tacos resemble a sushi hand roll more than anything wrapped in a tortilla. The dish dates back to chef Liam Mackey’s former gig at The Pearl on Nantucket, so there’s no changing the name now.
The Nautilus is the name of a fictional watercraft, as established. It was also the name of the world’s first submarine, invented by Robert Fulton in 1800; and a Cold War-era U.S. Navy vessel capable of prolonged submersion. And all of history’s most famous submarines? They are named for a deep sea-dwelling mollusk.