You know what they say about good things in small packages. Though it opened quietly in 2004 in a space as tight-fitting and pearly as its namesake, Neptune Oyster quickly emerged as a true pioneer on the Boston dining scene—almost single-handedly modernizing the historic Italian neighborhood it calls home even as it redefined New England seafood. It still does, of course. For every sparkling shellfish platter or killer bowl of chowder, there’s always some startlingly original gem to try: fried oysters laced with pickled beef tongue and Gruyère; sea urchin ditalini; roast monkfish with beef cheeks in mustard vinaigrette. Likewise, owner Jeff Nace keeps as far ahead of the boutique-wine curve as he did on day one, packing more gloriously geeky bottles onto one page than most lists 10 times its size offer. And while the wait for a table here is notoriously long, it only gives rise to the celebratory mood everyone shares once finally seated—they know they’ve landed someplace special.