On Our Radar

Faces, places, treasures, and trends that caught our attention.

By Clementina Verge

Inspired by

Inspired by the soulful sounds of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, 88 Keys on Main — an upscale piano bar and cafe that recently opened in Watertown—lures patrons back into a bygone era exuding dazzle and glamour.

Known as the Golden Age of Capitalism, the 1950s marked unprecedented economic growth and a culturally social time of sophistication and style, notes owner Ralph DelBuono, a self-described old soul whose lifelong dream has been to open an entertainment venue capturing the essence of this decade.

"There is no place like it"

“88 Keys on Main wishes to preserve this distinctive experience,” assures DelBuono, who opened Connecticut’s newest retro lounge in October, in partnership with Tom Daddona and John Orsini. “There is no other place like it in this area. It’s a unique establishment that encompasses a special night out.”

With lavish chandeliers, elegant leather sofas, a baby grand piano, a curated menu, and expertly crafted signature cocktails, 88 Keys offers a perfect taste of old Las Vegas magic. 

“It is a fun, intimate throwback to the Marilyn Monroe era,” he adds. “You’d swear Frank, Sammy, and the rest of the Rat Pack designed it.”

Old world tin ceilings, custom-made decor, and mid-century furnishings create a space that is warm, comfortable, and opulent, DelBuono notes. Small plate dining selections include meat and cheese charcuterie platters, jumbo shrimp cocktail, cast iron meatballs, deviled eggs, and seasonal paninis and flatbread pizzas. Indulgent desserts include limoncello sorbet flute, lemon olive oil cake, cheesecake, and chocolate hazelnut gelato. 

Rat Pack Cocktail Culture

Keeping with the Rat Pack cocktail culture, the drink list features bourbons, vodka, rum, gin, tequila, and wines morphed into specialty drinks like Not So Espresso Martini, the Rat Pack Pink, Hey Mambo, Locked and Loaded, and Ocean’s 11.

88 Keys is open Wednesday through Saturday nights from 5pm to close, closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and open Sundays only for private events. All reservations are made online.

Dining table, sofas, and retro chairs on live music evenings are by reservation-only, with two scheduled seatings: the first beginning at 6:30pm and the second at 9pm. The bar area is for planned and spontaneous gatherings. 

Like the Rat Pack transformed Las Vegas, Ralph, Tommy, and Johnny are doing it their way, adding swagger and glamour to Watertown, so whatever the occasion, dress to impress and head out for an unforgettable experience. —88keyspianobar.com 

A grand piano

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