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Wildwood Steakhouse | Marlborough, MA

Wildwood Steakhouse | Marlborough, MA

Like a Finely Aged Sirloin, Getting Better Each Year

When Kiel Carroccino arrived in Marlborough last year to manage a restaurant with 60+ years in the community, he could have simply maintained the already high standards of food and service, and allowed Wildwood’s reputation to ensure a steady flow of diners. Fortunately, that’s not the way Kiel thinks.

“As an established restaurant with a long history, the biggest challenge is not to be taken for granted. We fight for every guest that walks in the door, and are continually reaching out to attract new customers. That’s the only way to sustain ourselves for another 60 years,” he says.

So while the signature items continue to define Wildwood’s menu – Kansas City and NY rib-eyes and a hand-cut sirloin priced at $20 to ensure customers can enjoy a great meal without breaking the bank – new items are making a well-received debut as well. Oysters from the raw bar, seared ahi tuna, and chilled shellfish and other fresh seafood are delivered daily. A popular new appetizer of deviled eggs, hardboiled and fried to order, Parmesan-dusted calamari Pomodoro, flatbread pizzas, apple honey walnut and goat cheese salad, indulgent desserts including Bananas Foster and Bailey's creme brulee, and a craft beer and cocktail program are popular crowd pleasers.

“We are trying to appeal to whatever anyone is looking for on a given night,” says Kiel. “Seafood is big here in Massachusetts, and even at our steakhouse, 30% of the meals we serve are seafood, so we always offer a catch of the day – Artic char, trout, monkfish. Sometimes, nothing will satisfy but a big plate of fried pub food and a chilled martini.”

The wide-ranging diversity applies to Wildwood’s clientele, described by Kiel as “everyone from young families newly relocated from the city to local businesspeople to millennials out for a communal dining experience to high schoolers on a date.” The one perception he’s actively trying to change is that “people think we’re more upscale than we actually are. We’re known as the event place for birthday dinners and graduation parties. But we actually offer compelling value. You can get a top-notch filet mignon here, as well as an equally great burger, spend $10 or $50 …we don’t want to leave anyone behind and feel like they can’t afford to dine here.”

What truly differentiates Wildwood though is execution, says Kiel. At every point in the process, attention is paid to fine tuning the diner’s night out. Three open kitchens, for oysters and appetizers, steaks and seafood, desserts and salads, allow guests an upfront view of the preparation; dishes are served in a timely fashion, piping hot or well chilled; and care is taken to provide customers with a memorable experience. “We’ll make Caesar salads tableside, and at birthday celebrations, we’re well known for bringing out our famous Mile High Chocolate Cake.”

With complete respect for the traditions that made Wildwood a beloved destination for generations, the 33-year-old is also on a mission to bring in the millennials by building a presence on social media, constantly keeping an eye on new trends, and with owner Jerry Seymour (part of the family who originally opened Wildwood), visiting several restaurants a week for menu inspirations.  “We both believe in the philosophy that if you do what you always do, you get what you always got. There’s so much opportunity in the industry today, and amazing things to be learned from everyone, especially the competition.”

A recent visit to a local restaurant brought the lesson home. “All the managers stopped by, the chef came out during lunch to check in with me … that level of service is what really differentiates the business and brings people back.”

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