It was typical night at the Blue Ox Restaurant which meant that Matt O’Neil culinary palace on Oxford Street was crowded with diners enjoying everything from appetizers such as baked stuffed brie and crispy calamari to entrees such as pan roasted salmon, herb roasted boneless half chicken.
On this night, producers from the Channel 5 the show, “Chronicle” were recording the buzz and culinary brilliance at the Ox for an upcoming feature on the city of Lynn.
“Chronicle came in and filmed some of the food, some of the action in the kitchen and got a feel for what the buzz is all about at the Blue Ox in Lynn,” said O’Neil, owner and executive chef. “They got to meet some of the customers enjoying the food and drinks and unwinding a bit.”
O’Neil was interviewed for the show that will feature the city in a positive light. He said he was proud that Chronicle chose to feature his restaurant as part of the revitalization of the downtown district.
“It’s a little bit different for the downtown and our restaurant has been quite an attraction for the past 3 ½ years and we’ve won a lot of awards in and outside of the city,” said O’Neil. “It’s a nice draw to the city. We bring about 1,000 people a week into the city. There’s a lot of exposure through this restaurant what the downtown can be.”
O’Neil said the city’s entertainment schedule at the Lynn City Hall Auditorium, featuring internationally known performers, has been a boost to his business.
“The Auditorium has been great for us,” said O’Neil. “We definitely see a little bit of a hit on those nights. Foreigner is coming on Sept. 20 and we’ll definitely be packed on that night.”
Why has the Blue Ox been so successful and warmly received in the city?
“I think we do great food at a great value with fantastic service all in a casual entertaining setting,” said O’Neil. “It’s a place that you can come on a Tuesday night and get a great burger and pasta or come have a fantastic steak or local seafood on the weekend.”
The Blue Ox has won the “Best New Restaurant” award from Boston Magazine and been designated one of top 100 American restaurants in the United States by Open Table. It’s also garnered a number of award from North Shore Magazine.
Long-time North Shore fans will remember O’Neil from his days in the Swampscott Little League and as a football captain of the 1994 Swampscott High Big Blue team that lost to Salem in a classic showdown at Blocksidge Field. Salem coach Ken Perrone had chosen to coach his team during a teachers’ strike.
“I still regret that game,” said O’Neil. “I did play on some state championship Little League teams with Traeger DiPietro, Peter Woodfork, Todd McShay, Dan Locke, and David Portnoy.”
O’Neil takes pride in the high regard that his restaurant is held by diners across the region.
“I’m more than proud of what we’ve accomplished here,” said O’Neil. “There were a lot of odds against us but with good hard work, good willpower, a good, honest product we’ve beaten them.”