In Italian, the word “vicino” means “nearby” or “neighbor,” so it was a natural pick when determining a name for Bar ‘Cino, the Newport, R.I., neighborhood restaurant and bar that’s opening a Brookline outpost Friday.
“We shortened it — it’s a casual way of saying ‘neighborhood bar’,” said Shawn Westhoven, beverage director and head of concept development at Newport Restaurant Group.
The menu will take a fresh look at American interpretations of Italian cooking, and include more “fresh, plant-based proteins,” Westhoven said.
Those dishes include traditional ingredients such as cannellini beans paired with arugula and chicory as a salad, Italian faro with grilled vegetables, and tagliatelle with roasted Rhode Island-grown mushrooms. The menu will also include mainstays like antipasti and pasta bolognese.
“I always describe what we’re doing as more of the green and white than red and white of the Italian flag,” he said. “People think of Italian foods as red sauce and heavy meat dishes. I get to travel to Italy a lot, and that’s just not how the food is there.”
A signature item will be a thin-crust pizza with toppings such as prosciutto, fig, and arugula. The preparation honors Al Forno in Providence and its renowned grilled pizza technique, according to Westhoven.
“I lived by the restaurant when I was in college and loved them,” the Johnson and Wales grad said. “We will serve the pizza with scissors for guests to cut it up. That’s how my mum would do it.”
The Brookline restaurant is located in the space that formerly housed Waxy’s, an Irish bar, but the interior was completely refreshed with a modern boutique look.
“The look is casual, bright, and airy, which reflects our menu,” Westhoven said. “The bar top is made of spalted maple, which has a marbled look, paired with light colored woods, like raw white oak flooring.
“We want it to be comfortable,” he continued. “We noticed with our other restaurants that bar dining is more popular now, so we changed the ratio and have a lot of bar seats: 28 seats, which is a lot for the space we’re in.”
Rhode Island artist Sue McNally added visual interest to the room.
“We bought her in for some pictures for the Newport restaurant,” Westhoven said. “The mural is really interesting — playful. She told me they are images of herself, but they don’t look like her. Everyone has a different reaction. It’s a conversation starter.”
Newport Restaurant Group’s holdings number 11 restaurants in the Ocean State, including longstanding venues The Mooring on Newport’s Bowen’s Wharf and Waterside Grill in Providence, as well as two Papa Razzi restaurants in Massachusetts.
The company opened the first Bar ‘Cino in Newport last June. The new casual-chic Italian concept in Brookline will open for dinner nightly and for weekend brunch.
“I lived in Brookline for a little while and loved the neighborhood,” Westhoven said. “It’s a neighborhood where people live, and Bar ‘Cino lends itself to frequent dining, not special occasion dining. You can go for a special occasion, but I like go to the Bar ‘Cino in Newport at least a couple of times a week.”
Bar ‘Cino, 1032 Beacon St., Brookline; 617-608-3220, barcino.com.