Untouched by the seemingly overnight gentrification of Jamaica Plain, this old watering hole proudly remains. Don’t be fooled by its minimalist façade; the recently updated menu rises to the occasion and gives Centre Street an affordable dining alternative, without sacrificing creativity or quality. "JAM Kitchen," as the current staffers-turned-owners like to call their cooking area, serves up everything from lightly batter-fried and tender rings of calamari ($5.95) to a flawlessly grilled and roasted vegetable antipasto with eggplant, roasted red pepper, portobello, and fresh mozzarella ($5.25). Every ingredient is fresh as can be, including the oven-roasted turkey in Costello’s version of the post–Thanksgiving Day sandwich ($6.25), complete with stuffing and cranberry sauce, and the homegrown basil used in the sirloin steak with pesto butter, mashed potatoes, and veggie ($11.95). Belly up to the bar on your visit and one of the regulars might tell you that the pizzas ($6.95) are the best in the city.
If you feel like making an evening of it, Costello’s is full of activity guaranteed to entertain even the most finicky nightlife seekers. And whether you’re busy throwing darts or watching your favorite Boston team on one of the five TVs hung around the tavern, a friendly bartender is always quick to the draw. Come on Sundays and mingle with Berklee cats watching saxman James Merenda and friends jamming from 10 p.m. until close. (Catch the Sunday Jazz Jam three-year-anniversary celebration on February 29.) Local DJs spin dance tunes on Friday and Saturday nights to a blissful crowd boogying on the dance floor beneath a glimmering disco ball. Considering that the backs of the wait staff’s T-shirts declare IF YOU’RE STILL HUNGRY, YOU DIDN’T EAT HERE, it might not be a bad idea to get your groove on and work off a bit of the previously consumed calories.
Costello’s Tavern, located at 723 Centre Street, in Jamaica Plain, is open daily from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. The kitchen is open Sunday through Thursday until midnight, and on Friday and Saturday until 1 a.m. Call (617) 522-9263.