“I’ve been sitting in this place for seven months,” Michael Serpa said over the phone, referring to the restaurant he was supposed to open in April — until the pandemic brought things to a screeching halt.
Soon, he won’t be sitting much at all. Atlántico is set to debut on Thursday, bringing a seafood-centric eatery highlighting Spanish and Portuguese food and wine to the South End. It’s a welcome addition for Serpa, who also owns Select Oyster Bar and Grand Tour, the latter of which recently went into hibernation until spring.
So why open a new restaurant in such a volatile time? Serpa said he thinks Atlántico’s bones are right for it.
“The space is big,” he said, detailing how the 3,000-square-foot restaurant offers high ceilings, a patio, and open windows for better ventilation. “We pretty much said, let’s keep it on hold as long as we can. Then we started saying, well the space is too good, it’s too big, it’s too open, it’s exactly what we need for this, it would make more sense for us to utilize it. Let’s do it.”
During the week, Atlántico will operate as an all-day cafe, serving coffee from Ipswich’s Little Wolf Coffee Roasters alongside pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and fresh juices; weekend brunch will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Dinner will be served seven days a week and will focus on seafood-heavy tapas and larger entrées: octopus salad, tinned seafood, salt cod croquetas, Maine mussels with garbanzo puree, blue prawns with toasted garlic butter, and paella with bomba rice, saffron, chorizo, and a bevy of oceanic produce.
“We’re really focusing on super simple seafood ‘a la plancha,’ which is what you’ll see in Spain and Portugal,” Serpa said. “We’re keeping all the seafood components very pure and fresh and simple — which is a little bit different from what you see at most places around here for seafood restaurants. I feel like that’s what people want to eat still, and we’re doing it in a way that’s hearty and satisfying.”
Like Serpa’s other restaurants, a comprehensive wine list will also be on hand, highlighting wines from Spain and Portugal as well as a sizable sherry selection. A small cocktail list includes libations like the luquillo, a tropical old fashioned, and the São Jacinto, Atlántico’s version of a Manhattan.
While Serpa acknowledges that the opening will look drastically different than its scheduled spring debut — “we would have hopefully been mobbed and busy and doing events, whereas now we’re saying hopefully we can just survive until people come in” — he also seems optimistic about his latest restaurant.
“[Opening] almost doesn’t make any sense,” Serpa said. “But I think that maybe some good news for a minute will be refreshing.”
Atlántico is now accepting reservations; take a look at its dinner and drink menu below:
Atlántico; 600 Harrison Ave., Boston; Mondays–Fridays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. close, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to close; atlanticoboston.com
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