James Beard Award-winning chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette are a powerhouse pair, having opened Boston favorites Toro (also in New York) and Coppa in the South End together. Now the duo is premiering a new restaurant, Little Donkey, in Cambridge’s Central Square—their first Boston-area opening in six years.
Little Donkey opens its doors Monday for morning-to-night dining that focuses on small plates inspired by the chefs’ world travels.
The restaurant, named as a “nod to the hard-working animal that serves as a vital resource in various cultures around the world,” according to a press release, will offer a seasonally-focused, rotating menu. Expect an extensive raw bar full of traditional seafood fare like clams, oysters, and crab, along with live scallop and uni.
Little Donkey will also feature a rotating charcuterie board with options such as Vietnamese bologna with squid and peanuts, Thai sausage pig in a blanket, and lamb bacon BLT lettuce wraps, with pimento cheese, tomato, and pickled red onion. For shareable hors d’oeuvres, there’ll be black pepper popovers with steak tartare and clam garlic bread with baharat (a Middle Eastern spice mixture) and garlic butter.
Whereas Toro focuses on Spanish fare and Coppa on Italian, Little Donkey combines traits from cuisines around the world for entree inspiration. Main meal items include Matzo ball ramen with burnt onion and schmaltz (rendered chicken or goose fat) and chow fun with rice noodles, soft shell crab, Calabrian chili, and black beans. You’ll also find monkfish biryani, smoked short ribs with collards and grits, and even a Donk Burger with dry-aged beef, buffalo pickles, onion soup mayo, foie gras, and jalapeño chips.
Oringer and Bissonnette teamed up with Vikram Hedge, former of Island Creek Oyster Bar and Sarma, to create a cocktail program that highlights globally-influenced creations. You can sip on drinks like the Webber’s Porch (vodka, blueberry, Japanese herb shiso, and bubbles) and the Ode to Pablo (Sombra mezcal, Gran Clasico, spicy ginger shrub, and lime), along with an internationally-focused wine list that emphasizes small-production winemakers, and local craft brews.
The restaurant seats 90 inside and 45 on its rear patio and is located at 505 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge.
Little Donkey is open for breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and dinner from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, it’s open for brunch from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.