Once upon a time, Chowhound hosted a sad, ongoing thread chronicling the unfortunate state of Metrowest dining. Things have changed out there, with the ascendance of Concord's 80 Thoreau and Bondir, Sudbury's 29 Sudbury, and now a new Il Casale. The Belmont staple, run by chef Dante deMagistris and family, will open up in Lexington Center this spring, says his rep. This version, called Il Casale Osteria, will have a similar menu to the Belmont location and the same excellent patio.FULL ENTRY
Local craft distillery Bully Boy launches a limited-time-only pop-up bar tomorrow inside Fenway restaurant Sweet Caroline's. The cocktail menu is designed by mixologist Noon Inthasuwan-Summers, who's drawn a following at Moksa. You'll find barrel-aged martinis, beer cocktails, a whiskey flip, and seasonal specials made with Bully Boy herbal infusions. See the menu ahead (and swill freely through the beginning of next year).FULL ENTRY
A source tells Eater Boston that the Barcelona Wine Bar tapas franchise has plans to move into the old Sibling Rivalry space at 525 Tremont St. in the South End. But is the neighborhood big enough for more small plates?FULL ENTRY
A rep for Ostra tells me that they're officially open for business. Ostra's the latest from Jamie Mammano (the man behind Mistral, among other special-night destinations). Here, you'll find Mediterranean seafood and a piano bar — an oceanic alternative to Legal Sea Foods up the street.
Ostra, One Charles St. S., Boston
First the Shake Shack invasion, and now this: A rep tells us that the first Boston-area Smashburger opens at Natick's Sherwood Plaza on December 11. The Denver-based chain sells build-your-own burgers, Haagen Dazs shakes, salads, and local craft beer. There's also Boston-themed treats like a "New Englander" burger topped with cranberry sauce, grilled onions, and cranberry stilton. More Boston-area shops are planned. Now, if only In-n-Out would look eastward.
A couple of months ago, I wrote about the team behind Island Creek Oyster Bar opening a spin-off restaurant, Row 34, in Fort Point. At the time, restaurateur Garrett Harker tantalized with tales of local brew and fresh seafood influenced by "a world approach to flavors and spices," concocted by Francisco Millan, who was the sous chef at Island Creek. Well, Row 34 is now open, just in time for all your Thanksgiving bivalve and beer needs.FULL ENTRY
Ward 8 replaces Nebo at 90 N. Washington St. on Monday. Expect frisky cocktails from Eastern Standard veteran Mike Wyatt, craft beers, comfort-food shareables, and a very on-trend raw bar. The restaurant is run by Nick Frattaroli, whose family owns North End standbys Lucia, Filippo, and Ducali.FULL ENTRY
Since September, they had the cheese and meat boards — just not the beer. But, as of Saturday, Newton's Hopsters Brew & Boards restaurant and brewery has something that makes a lot of sense: a liquor license. Expect a rotating list of local brews, and eventually craft cocktails. Cheers!
Hopsters Brew & Boards, 292 Centre St., Newton
In one of his final acts as mayor, Tom Menino welcomed France's PAUL bakery to its first Boston location at One Boston Place today. Per a release, Menino was presented with a "commemorative bread creation" to mark the unveiling. The Downtown Crossing, Parisian pâtisserie has 6,000 square feet, including a 2,770 square foot mezzanine and an outdoor patio, plus areas to watch the bread being made from scratch. It opens in summer 2014. Menino is quoted by the release as saying that PAUL will "enhance Downtown Crossing’s growing culinary and fresh food landscape," serving breads, pastries, and sandwiches.FULL ENTRY
Boston Restaurant Talk reports that 02 Vegan Cafe is now open inside Cambridge's 02 Yoga studio. According to their site, they're exclusively vegan. You can get sandwiches, soups, smoothies before or after your contortions, plus gluten-free sweets. Full menu is here. Best-named menu item: The Hyper Monkey, a peanut butter smoothie spiked with coffee ice cubes ... probably best enjoyed after working out.
Below, their pumpkin smoothie, cutely presented in a mason jar:
02 Vegan Cafe, 1001 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
The Highball Lounge at the Nine Zero hotel opens this evening, per Urban Daddy, who says the space resembles a "1960s attic." As such, expect accoutrements like vintage vinyl, retrolicious board games, and that favorite Woodstock treat: cocktails topped with Rubber Duckies.FULL ENTRY
Finally! The adorable-sounding Farm & Fable is officially open, according to their Facebook page. The shop sells rare cookbooks dating from the 1800's, out-of-print tomes containing offbeat recipes, and works from the occasional boldface chef for good measure.FULL ENTRY
The Renaissance-style Italian restaurant originally called M.C. Medici has been rechristened M.C. Spiedo, a rep tells me. It will open at the Seaport's Renaissance Hotel in February. M.C. is a nod to chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, and "Spiedo" refers to "spit" or "skewer" in Italian. A 40-inch steel spit will be used to roast locally sourced duck, chicken, and suckling pig.
MC Spiedo, 606 Congress St., Boston
Worst news I've read all day: Somerville's luscious and tiny DooWee & Rice, home to smoked salmon bao baos and crispy chicken heart fries, has closed, Eater Boston reports. True, the Powderhouse Circle location was a bit quiet and the space was slightly cramped, but still. What will the Tufts students say? Now Somervillians will have to cross the river for their magical Vietnamese eggrolls and white sauce: Owner Duy Tran plans to partner with Allston's Wonder Bar, adding a menu of more than 20 creative bao. Less conveniently, he's also considering a shop in London.
A rep from Ostra, the newest restaurant from the Columbus Hospitality Group (Mistral, Teatro, Sorellina, Mooo and L’Andana), tells me that they're now looking at a late November opening date. Ostra replaces Avila at One Charles St. The restaurant specializes in Mediterranean-inspired seafood, with chef/owner Jamie Mammano and executive chef Mitchell Randall (also of Mistral) at the helm. There's also a piano bar. A piano bar in the Theatre District that isn't at Jacob Wirth? Swanky!
The big day is almost here: Chef Jason Bond tells us that the 100-seat Concord branch of Bondir opens on November 21. The restaurant is now taking reservations on OpenTable. Read more about the Cambridge location here.
Bondir, 24 Walden St., Concord
In May, chef Paul O'Connell told me that the rumored sale of Cambridge staple Chez Henri to Green Street's Dylan Black wasn't a done deal. Now, it seems, the time has come for him to move on (sad timing, given the recent news about UpStairs on the Square). The 19-year-old French-Cuban restaurant on Shepard St. will close on Sunday, Cambridge Day reports.FULL ENTRY
Boston Restaurant Talk picks up on an intriguing Chowhound scoop: The Abbey on Beacon St. in Brookline will open a Porter Square branch. The Abbey is known for its late-night menu, served 'til 1:30 a.m. Boston.com previously called the comfy American spot a "neighborhood sanctuary," so our hopes are with Cambridge.
Last night on The Arsenio Hall Show, Donnie Wahlberg announced that his reality show about Hingham's Wahlburgers premieres on January 22, on A&E. Chef-owner Paul Wahlberg will appear alongside celeb brothers Mark and Donnie and their mom, Alma, who works at the burger joint. (Alma Nove, Paul Wahlberg's other restaurant, is named for her.) Watch Donnie make the big announcement below. Sad fact: As a kid, he was taunted with the name "Ronald Wahlburger," but he insists that he's gotten the last laugh.
A lovely sentiment, but perhaps not the most appetizing restaurant name. Nonetheless: Chowhound reports that Dirty Water Dough Company has replaced the Proper Slice (formerly the Upper Crust) at 222 Newbury St. in the Back Bay. Eater notes that the restaurant is named after an IPA that Cape Ann Brewing Company custom-made for the shop, which is served on tap and also used to make the dough. The pizza toppings are funky: Fenway franks, Doritos, mustard, ketchup, Sriracha buffalo sauce, and even Cheez-Its conspire to make ordering a possibly delicious, possibly heartburn-inducing challenge. What do you think: Too much? Or so tasty?
Barbara Lynch is transforming her Fort Point restaurant Sportello from an Italian diner and bakery into a wine bar in honor of its fifth anniversary. The essentials:
It's a new concept. Expect "trattoria-inspired Italian dishes alongside a supremely approachable artisanal wine list," we're told. Lynch says that Fort Point has "come alive" since Sportello opened five years ago and the neighborhood now has plenty of prime options for coffee, bakery items, and sandwiches. Sportello will focus on fresh pastas, polenta, soups, and (of course) wine.
There's a new menu. Dine on buratta with fig, speck and rosemary oil; cauliflower and leek Salad with anchovy, mustard bread crumbs, and minzuna; octopus with olive lemon and potato; corzetti with shrimp, lemon and bread crumbs, and braised veal cheeks with celery root puree, brussel sprouts, and prune.
The bakery counter is going away. Boo-hoo.
There's modified, expanded eating arrangement. There's now two-, four- and six-top tables, along with the counter service and tables with room for large parties of up to 10 wine lovers.
The menu's bigger than at Drink. Sportello's six-seat wine bar will offer the complete Sportello menu, not just a small-plates menu, like downstairs at Lynch's Drink.
The beer and wine selection is small and thoughtful. Experiment with craft beers and Italian wines from small vintners, selected by Wine Director Cat Silirie. There won't be a full bar, at least not right away.
They have new hours. You can commence sipping at 11:30 a.m. Last call is 11 p.m.
It's closing for a revamp at Thanksgiving. The restaurant will close during Thanksgiving week for the makeover, but you can still escape your vexing relatives downstairs at Drink (or take advantage of their largesse next door at Lynch's Menton).
Ahead, check out a few photos of their new dishes.FULL ENTRY
Fans of Jeff Fournier now have a good reason to skip out of work midday: The chef, who also runs Newton's 51 Lincoln, launches lunch service at his popular new spot, Waban Kitchen, starting on November 19. The menu will be served at the bar and in the dining room, Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. You can also pop in after 3:30 for small plates, served 'til dinnertime.
Margaret Li tells us that her family's Chinese-American restaurant, Mei Mei, opens on Monday for lunch. (Read all about her family's Kickstarter campaign here.) Mei Mei is the brick-and-mortar version of the popular Mei Mei Street Kitchen food truck. She says they'll start off with lunch and soft dinners for their Kickstarter backers, followed by public dinners the following week. Congratulations, Mei Mei!
Mei Mei, 506 Park Dr., BostonFULL ENTRY
Chicago restaurateur and chef Charlie Trotter has died, reports the Chicago Tribune. Until last year, he ran an eponymous, award-winning restaurant in the city's Lincoln Park neighborhood; in 2012, he won the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year award. The Tribune reports that the famed chef "was found unconscious and not breathing" at home and was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Boston chefs have been expressing their shock and sorrow on social media. "One of my heroes. So sad to hear he is gone. I obsessed over his cooking when I was younger. Huge loss to our community," tweeted Alden & Harlow's Michael Scelfo. "Our thoughts & prayers go out to Charlie Trotter's family. His influence can be found in kitchens throughout the world. Rest in Peace," tweeted the staff at West Bridge. Trotter was 54.
About this blogWith Boston's growing restaurant scene, we're keeping up with important and interesting changes -- from anticipated openings to surprise closings, to the latest news about local chefs. More »