The food at Cambridge’s newest Italian restaurant looks amazing

Benedetto is now serving soppressata and white bean bruschetta, grilled octopus, and a variety of traditional Italian desserts at The Charles Hotel in Harvard Square.

Soppressata and white bean bruschetta with grilled red onion fennel pollen and pecorino.
Soppressata and white bean bruschetta with grilled red onion fennel pollen and pecorino from Benedetto. –Erik Jacobs/JacobsPhotographic

For more than two decades, The Charles Hotel in Harvard Square was home to Rialto, a highly acclaimed restaurant famous for its slow-roasted duck and run by James Beard Award-winning chef Jody Adams. Its successor, Benedetto, is now open for business, and the Italian cuisine from Owner and Executive Chef Michael Pagliarini, of Cambridge’s well-regarded Italian eatery Giulia, looks like it can hold its own with the best restaurants in the area.

“The Charles Hotel has been home to the top restaurants in Cambridge since the beginning, and we look forward to being part of that narrative,” Pagliarini said in a press release. “Benedetto is inspired by the honesty and wisdom of traditional Italian regional cooking, and it is my hope each bite conveys that passion.”

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According to the release, Benedetto will offer a balanced menu featuring prime meats and seafood, while also showcasing the freshest vegetables and legumes currently in season.

Spicy grilled octopus with boiled potatoes, ‘sapori di mare’ maionese, fennel bulb and celery leaf
Spicy grilled octopus with boiled potatoes, ‘sapori di mare’ maionese, fennel bulb and celery leaf. —Erik Jacobs/JacobsPhotographic

The restaurant’s team features some of the premier culinary experts in the Boston area, including General Manager Megan McKinnon (Doretta Taverna), Chef de Cuisine Francisco Millan (Row 34), and Pastry Chef Renae Connolly (Café ArtScience).

While dinner is the highlight at Benedetto, the dessert and beverage menus are no slouch, with Connolly whipping up house-made gelatos, sorbettos, chocolates, and biscotti, and McKinnon overseeing a wine list that features spirits from every region of Italy.

For diners yet to land a seat at the smaller Giulia, which debuted in 2012, Benedetto’s 220-seat floor plan should offer a better chance at snagging a reservation. When the weather warms up, the restaurant will open up a café-style patio.

“Chef Pagliarini has established himself as a top culinary talent in Harvard Square as well as Boston,” said Charles Hotel General Manager Alex Attia in the release. “We are honored to partner with him to bring Benedetto to life at The Charles Hotel.”

Benedetto is open for dinner service seven days a week from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Tagliatelle alla bolognese (traditional ragù with beef short rib, pancetta and chicken livers)
Tagliatelle alla bolognese (traditional ragù with beef short rib, pancetta and chicken livers). —Erik Jacobs/JacobsPhotographic
Crispy yellow dent corn polenta with bacala mantecato (salt cod, potato, chive and caviar)
Crispy yellow dent corn polenta with bacala mantecato (salt cod, potato, chive and caviar). —Erik Jacobs/JacobsPhotographic
Araguani 72% Chocolate Budino with honey crunch, brûléed quince, ras el hanout, caramel gelato
Araguani 72% Chocolate Budino with honey crunch, brûléed quince, ras el hanout, caramel gelato. —Erik Jacobs/JacobsPhotographic
Benedetto Owner and Executive Chef Michael Pagliarini.
Benedetto Owner and Executive Chef Michael Pagliarini. —Erik Jacobs/JacobsPhotographic
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