Orá Trattorizza debuts in Copley Square this weekend — it just took a while

Three years in the making, this new Italian restaurant will add some taste to a long empty space on Boylston Street.

(Boston, MA 07/07/18) Diavola Pizza at Orá Trattoriazza. (Photo by John Wilcox)
Diavola Pizza at Orá Trattoriazza. –John Wilcox

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“Any day now,” said Josephine Megwa earlier this week, anticipating the opening of her new Italian restaurant, Orá Trattorizza, on Boylston Street.

For Megwa, also the owner of 17-year-old Piattini Wine Café on Newbury Street, opening Orá Trattorizza has been a long time coming — she said it has taken three years from idea to fruition, and a projected spring opening date was held up by construction delays. But with the final city permits granted, Orá Trattorizza will open for dinner Friday and Saturday, close on Sunday, and then reopen for dinner on Monday, ready for its regular seven-days-a-week dinner schedule. Lunch and Sunday brunch service will soon follow.

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“It is a laborious process,” Megwa said of permitting, “but the city has been great. It was really construction that caused the delays. Though it had been a restaurant before, we gutted it, and then there were unforeseen problems.”

Tiramisu at Or‡ Trattoriazza. —John Wilcox

The restaurant will also serve its neighbor, the Charlesmark Hotel, whose owner, Mark Hagopian, is a partner in Orá. Hotel guests will be able to order food from Orá’s menu and have it served in the hotel’s bar or lounge. Orá Trattorizza will also take over the patio in front of the hotel, as well as its own sidewalk frontage, and will have clear views onto Copley Square and the Boston Marathon finish line.

Hagopian first approached Megwa in 2015 about overseeing a new restaurant in the space formerly occupied by the Asian casual restaurant Bangkok Blue.

“He is a big Piattini fan and asked me to create a new concept in that space,” Megwa recalled.

Megwa envisioned the kind of neighborhood Italian place where you eat today, now, rather than wait and go on a special occasion — “ora” means “now,” in this moment.

As for “trattorizza”?

“It’s a made up word,” Megwa admitted. It combines “trattoria” with “pizzeria.”

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The two-story interior’s rustic-chic design was overseen by Boston-based RAD Design, which is a collaboration between interior designers Ryan Spaulding and Amy Margolis.

“I want people to feel like they are in Rome. The interior has arches and natural wood and a classical ceramic black and white tile. And there is a pizza oven clad in gold glass tiles. It’s really beautiful. I gave it a big hug when it arrived,” she said, giggling. “It heats to 900 degrees and cooks a pizza in three minutes.”

Ora’s pizza oven. —John Wilcox

Ora’s Neapolitan-style, crisp, crusted pizza is a menu highlight, but there are also pastas and Italian classics like saltimbocca and branzino, arancini and tiramisu, all overseen by one-time Piattini chef Luis Cano.

“He moved over to Ora,” Megwa said. “We’ve spent two years tasting various recipes to develop the menu. Whereas Piattini is small plates, this will be different, like a real trattoria. Clean, fresh food, like our bucatini with fresh vegetables.”

Orá’s wine list includes bespoke red and white house wines, both specially bottled in Tuscany.

“I have a friend in Tuscany who owns a winery,” Megwa said. “The wines will be private label, estate-bottled. We did a lot of tastings and the rosso, the red, is a merlot blend that is much smoother than most Tuscans. I am a red wine drinker; it’s just delicious.”

Megwa said that, like Piattini, Orá Trattorizza honors her Italian family roots.

“My mom bought the meat from the meat guy and the fruit from the fruit guy,” she said. “That is how we source our ingredients. This is how I grew up.”

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Orá Trattorizza; 653 Boylston St., Boston; oratrattorizza.com

Correction 7/23/2018: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified RAD Design. We regret the error.

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