The Bancroft, which is billing itself as an "urban-inspired steakhouse and lounge," has hired a ve-rry promising executive chef: Mario Capone, pictured below. Capone opened Scampo and Towne with Lydia Shire, and he was also Shire's executive chef when she reopened the late, lamented, legendary Locke-Ober in 2006. The Burlington restaurant has a solid pedigree: It's from the Webber Group, the same family of restaurants that run Groton's tasty Gibbet Hill Grill and Harvard's Fruitlands Museum. Also promising: a 32-seat bar with four separate "interactive" bartending stations.
The Bancroft, 15 Third Ave., Burlington
Huge news for Cambridge's culinary scene: Former UpStairs on the Square chef Susan Regis has partnered with Hi-Rise Bread Company's Rene Becker to open a restaurant in the former Chez Henri space outside Harvard Square, which will be "French in spirit," she tells me. It seemed "like a natural step for the both of us. We both live in the neighborhood and have loved Chez forever, not to mention the fact that [Chez Henri's] Paul [O'Connell]
is one of my oldest culinary friends in Boston, and I feel like I'm a logical person to pass the
baton to," she e-mails. She says the restaurant will be "French in spirit, sort of the way Chez Panisse is French in spirit, local and seasonal." UpStairs on the Square and Chez Henri each closed at the end of 2013 after decades in business.
Cambridge's Mount Auburn Cemetery will host a Death Cafe on March 23. According to the cemetery's site, "Death Cafe is an opportunity for people to eat [angel food?] cake, drink tea, and discuss death. The goal is to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives."FULL ENTRY
A rep tells me that Bricco Salumeria and Pasta Shoppe has opened at 11 Board Alley, next to Bricco Panetteria. The shop sells more than 100 types of freshly made pasta, homemade sauces, homemade mozzarella, cured Italian meats and cheeses, olive oil, and vinegar. There's also a sandwich menu with classic Italian, Italian tuna, oven roasted turkey, chicken parmesan, eggplant parmesan, and more. It's run by North End restaurateur Frank DePasquale, who also owns Bricco, Mare Oyster Bar, Quattro, and Trattoria il Panino.
The Merchant opened over the weekend at 60 Franklin St. The brasserie's run by Shane Smyth, a co-owner at Newton's well-respected Sycamore; the chef is Matthew Foley, who used to work at the equally respected Craigie on Main and at Sycamore, too. There's a 40-foot bar, 36 beers on tap, and an oyster bar that's open from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m., with its own late-night menu. (Food is served until midnight Sunday through Wednesday and until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.) Check out the menu here, and take note: They even have $6 validated parking.
The Merchant, 60 Franklin St., Boston, 617-482-6060
This is going to be a big spring for openings, and there are a few particularly juicy ones slated for March. Here are the five that you should be most excited about (in my humble, hungry opinion): Neapolitan pizza in Fort Point, a serious speakeasy in the South End, grilled meats in Somerville, seafood from Downtown Crossing's swankiest steakhouse, and authentic Sonoran in Belmont, of all places. What are you psyched about?
Ester will replace the Ledge, home of the city's best patio, says the Dorchester Reporter. They'll serve standards like burgers and salads, plus offer an al fresco barbecue buffet, pig roasts, and different regional cuisines to reflect the diversity of Lower Mills. "We actually want to do things that people don’t necessarily cook at home. Like you might not take the time to make lamb shanks or lamb stew," owner Eleanor Arpino told the paper. Arpino handled operations for Davio's for 16 years. Look for the restaurant to open in April.
Ester, 2261 Dorchester Ave., Lower Mills, Dorchester
Chipotle: A favorite sin, but gratifying news for those who hope to atone. They're introducing their first-ever vegan “sofritas” dish here starting on March 3. So, in addition to the pork, chicken, and steak you so love, now you can get organic shredded tofu braised with chipotle chilies, roasted poblano peppers, and a blend of spices, all fully vegan, as tacos, burritos, bowls, and salads. They're introducing the new inaugural vegan item here and in New York City, before expanding nationwide. We can order our weight in guacamole, sour cream, and luscious lime rice at Chipotle ... about time we can kind of relax and pile up on tofu.
According to a press release, Somerville catering service Cuisine en Locale has opened the "world’s first-ever locavore function hall." Every Saturday from 10 until 3, they'll do a healthy brunch with locavorean delicacies, custom-crafted "produce forward" drinks, and live jazz. They'll also host pop-up dinner events. See the inaugural menu, ahead.FULL ENTRY
Joe Cassinelli plans to turn Davis Square's gorgeously neon Rosebud Diner into a pan-American roadhouse this May, says Eater Boston. Cassinelli runs Posto and the Painted Burro in the same neighborhood, and he's also opening a Painted Burro downtown in the coming months.
Sullivan's hot dog stand in Southie has thrown caution to the (frigid) wind and decided to open on Saturday, meaning that spring has unofficially arrived. Breakfast starts at 8:30 a.m., with their full menu launching at 10:30 a.m. Plus: hot dogs are half price all week long, according to their Facebook page.
It was just a matter of time, really. Wahlburgers, the Hingham burger restaurant run by Mark, Paul, and Donnie Wahlberg, will open a second location in Lynnfield, according to last night's juicy episode of A&E's Wahlburgers. BRT's Marc Hurwitz says he's heard whispers that the second location will be at MarketStreet Lynnfield, home to Legal C Bar, Kings, and Davio's.
Here are the burger-lovin' brothers pictured with their mom, Alma.
This is perhaps my favorite, most gratifying Restaurant Hub blog post to date: Xi'an Famous Foods plans to open in Boston, says DNAinfo New York. The Chinese noodle shop opened in Flushing in 2005; since then, it's gained a cult following throughout New York City for its tinglingly spicy, hand-ripped noodles. Noodles (strappy, chewy, delicious) are typically seared in hot oil and commingled with delicacies like stewed oxtail and cumin lamb. Xi'an also make an excellent, hand-held cumin lamb burger. A half-decade seems like a long time to pine, but really, as any New Yorker will tell you, these noodles are worth waiting for (and people do wait, often in line for hours at a time). Drool over the full menu here.
It's the Oscars of the food world: the James Beard awards. Today, the 2014 semi-finalists were announced. Ribelle is basically this year's American Hustle: The restaurant (which earned four Globe stars) is a best new restaurant semi-finalist; chef Tim Maslow is also in the running as a rising star chef. Here's the full list of hometown contenders.FULL ENTRY
I just talked to Kristen Kish, the outgoing chef de cuisine at Menton. She'll stay on at Menton until March 8, and even then, she isn't planning on fleeing Boston. ("I just bought a condo," she says. "Boston is my home.") Also, she's not opening her own restaurant—at least not yet. For now, she's calling her departure a self-exploration. "I just really want to do big things, outside of restaurants. I'll still be cooking, and one day I'll have something of my own. But it won't happen without that exploration part," she says. "This is going to help me build my own future as a chef. I'm going to build 'me,' and whatever that process takes, I'll do it."FULL ENTRY
According to a press release from the Barbara Lynch Gruppo, chef Kristen Kish—who won Top Chef season 10—is leaving her chef de cuisine post at Fort Point's swanky Menton to pursue other opportunities. She'll be replaced by Scott Jones, who's now the chef de cuisine at Lynch’s flagship, No. 9 Park. Kish became chef de cuisine at Menton in June 2013.
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff
Chef Dante de Magistris reveals some more details about his forthcoming Lexington center restaurant. He tells me that the new spot, which replaces Nourish, will be called Il Casale Cucina Campana + Bar (not Il Casale Osteria, as was previously thought). His Belmont restaurant, Il Casale Cucina Italiana + Bar, focuses on food throughout Italy. As the name suggests, this branch is different: Here, he'll spotlight food from Campania, with a Neapolitan emphasis. Construction begins next Monday, de Magistris says. Stay tuned.
Chef Jeff Fournier sent me a letter yesterday outlining new plans for his flagship Newton restaurant, 51 Lincoln. (He also owns the new-ish Waban Kitchen.) Inspired by chef Alice Waters, owner of California's iconic Chez Panisse, Fournier says that he wants to own a restaurant would make his infant son proud someday. "My ultimate goal is to not feel that I have compromised my principles in exchange for profit," he writes. "51 Lincoln House Rules will apply: no hormones or antibiotics; no GMO products; no artificial colors, preservatives or sweeteners (see you later, Splenda); no processed ingredients; grow everything we can; source ingredients in the most sustainable way possible; respect plants and animals by using all of their parts."
What this means for you: He's scrapping his old menu in favor of a four-course prix fixe every night (guests can also order the prix-fixe dishes a la carte); the set menu will change once every couple of weeks. Standbys like watermelon steak will linger for a week or so more, but then they'll vanish until they're in season. (Winter isn't great for watermelon.) The restaurant's vibe will change, too: "We will treat guests as we would like to be treated: we’ll encourage guests to enjoy a dish as it is designed unless they have an allergy, we’ll honor reservation times and expect guest to do the same; if a guest is insulting to staff, they will no longer be welcome," he writes. See his full letter, ahead. What do you think? Get that watermelon steak while you can!FULL ENTRY
Sad news in Brookline: Jimmy's Bar & Oven at 1653 Beacon St. will close on or around February 23, says an employee of the restaurant. More details to come. Currently, it's home to a very fine chicken parmesan pizza and a nice beer selection. It opened in 2011; before that, it was the B&D Deli.
Update: Owner James Hamelburg tells me that he'll reopen Jimmy's in Downtown Boston in the coming months, location TBD. He also says that the current Jimmy's will stay open a bit longer, into March, and that a new restaurant isn't taking its place (sorry, friends).
National chain Noodles & Co., which carries an international medley of noodle dishes, plans to open at Burlington's Middlesex Marketplace. There's pasta alfredo, spaghetti and meatballs, pad thai, beef stroganoff, Tuscan linguine, and a separate menu devoted solely to pork toppings. I've eaten at various locations across the country, and I'm pleased to report that it's a high-quality place, sort of the Epcot Center of carbohydrates.
Dave Becker tells me that his Wellesley restaurant should open in about three months, and it'll be called Juniper. He says the name seemed like a logical culinary counterpoint to his Needham restaurant, Sweet Basil. Naturally, he's also entertaining the idea of multiple gin cocktails on the menu. It replaces Wellesley's Milestone.
Juniper, 13 Central St., Wellesley
The DooWee & Rice team will return to their old digs at 868 Broadway in Somerville for a little bit, according to a new Facebook post. They're bringing back a menu of their favorites, including bao and chicken heart fries, Monday through Wednesday.FULL ENTRY
Chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette have done well in New York City: Their new Toro got a very enthusiastic review from The New York Times recently. Now they're bringing some Manhattan-only menu items to Boston. Grab 'em at Clio's bar for a limited time.FULL ENTRY