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Fine American Dining

Dicembre 2009
Aperto nel 1826, per gli standard americani è una vera e propria antichità. Ai tavoli dell’Union Oyster House, a Boston, si sono seduti statisti e presidenti. Oggi si guarda il baseball sui megaschermi.

di Kathleen Becker

File audio:

The Union Oyster House
The Union Oyster House
Joe Milano
Joe Milano

Language Level B2 (upper intermediate)

Boston is essentially the city where modern American history began. So perhaps it isn’t surprising that it is home to the United States’ oldest continuously operating restaurant: The Union Oyster House first opened in 1826 and it is still going strong today.
Serving New England seafood favorites such as clam chowder, lobster and, of course, oysters, the Union Oyster House is a popular tourist attraction. The semicircular Oyster Bar that gave the restaurant its name is on the ground floor. Here 19th-century statesman Daniel Webster used to have his six daily plates of half a dozen oysters, with brandy and water. Today, customers can follow the Boston Red Sox baseball team on the television screen. The restaurant also occupies the upstairs area and a building next door. It is a labyrinth of wooden benches on creaking floorboards under a low ceiling. Booth number 18, which is marked with a plaque, was regularly used by John F. Kennedy: members of the Kennedy dynasty still eat there today.


The Union Oyster House may have opened in 1826, but the building is even older. Before the restaurant, there was a store here. The Boston waterfront reached the store’s back door – and so did the American Revolution. In 1771, one of the first newspapers in the US, The Massachusetts Spy, was published from the upper floor.


A future King of France briefly lived on the second floor in 1796. The exiled Louis Philippe earned a living by teaching French to Boston’s fashionable young ladies. Later, Louis Philippe returned home and served as king from 1830 to 1848.
And it was at the Union Oyster House that the toothpick was first used in the US. In order to promote his new business, the importer of the wooden sticks from South America paid Harvard students to dine at the restaurant and ask for toothpicks.
The restaurant has only had three owners in its 183 years of history. For the last 40 years, it has been in the hands of Joseph “Joe” Milano, an Italian American who is also the Honorary Consul of Thailand in Boston. The consulate is located here and a small part of this remarkable building is even Thai territory.

The Kennedy Connection


Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

The Union Oyster House in Boston is America’s oldest continuously operating restaurant. It first opened for business in 1826 and in the early days its clients included the statesman, Daniel Webster, while, in the 1950s, it was a favorite of future American president John F. Kennedy. As the restaurant’s owner, Joe Milano explains, there is still a “Kennedy Booth” in the Union Oyster House today:

Joe Milano (Standard American/Boston accent):

Kennedy, when he was a Congressman and a Senator, so we go back into the 1950s, he served as a Congressman and then as a Senator for one or two term(s), so we go into the period of 1959. During the ’50s, he would come to the Oyster House on Sundays, and he would spread his newspapers out and he would enjoy a lobster stew. And he came here, it was a restaurant that he enjoyed and he felt, I think, a solitude, and he came alone, and thus the stories have been written about Kennedy and the Kennedy Booth, and the booth that he preferred to sit in.


We then asked Joe Milano to name his own favorite dish:

Joe Milano:

Favorite dish? If I was going to come to the Oyster House, I probably would enjoy first sitting at the Oyster Bar, so we’re in the old original, we’re at the bar that Daniel Webster made quite famous, I would probably have a half a dozen oysters. I would certainly enjoy the clam chowder. The clam chowder is very well known. And so I would start that way. I certainly would enjoy to have lobster, lobster’s prepared in many different ways, I certainly would enjoy the aspects of having it... lobster scampi-style, so I would even suggest that tonight as one of your dishes: very well done.

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seafood favorites - i tradizionali frutti di mare.

clam chowder - zuppa di molluschi.

lobster - aragoste.

oysters - ostriche.

statesman - statista.

six daily plates - sei piatti al giorno.

wooden benches - panchine di legno.

creaking floorboards - assi di legno cigolanti.

low ceiling - soffitto basso.

booth - tavolo.

Store - negozio.

waterfront - litorale.

earned a living - si guadagnava da vivere.

toothpick - stuzzicadenti.

wooden sticks - bastoncini di legno.

remarkable - notevole.


he would spread his newspapers out - apriva i giornali.

lobster stew - stufato di aragosta.

and thus the stories... - e da qui vengono i racconti...

scampi-style - con limone, burro, vino bianco e prezzemolo.

very well done -   ben cotto.