Restaurants

Award-winning chef Mark Ladner returns to Mass. to open Bar Enza in Cambridge

The Italian restaurant arrives at the Charles Hotel in September.

Chef Mark Ladner
Chef Mark Ladner. Courtesy Mark Ladner

Chef Mark Ladner has spent the last 25 years in New York City, where he helped open culinary giants like Babbo, Lupa, and Otto while working with Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Lidia Bastianich’s restaurant group. He garnered critical acclaim for his role as chef de cuisine at Del Posto, earning the restaurant a coveted Michelin star.

But the James Beard Award winner and Belmont native is now tackling a project a little closer to home. In September, Ladner will open Bar Enza, an Italian restaurant serving handmade pastas and seasonal dishes within Harvard Square’s Charles Hotel.

This isn’t Ladner’s first stint in Cambridge. He began his career at Café Fiorello in Harvard Square before gaining a culinary education at Johnson & Wales, then went on to work at Todd English’s Olives in Charlestown, cooking with local all-stars like Barbara Lynch and Marc Ofaly.

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At Bar Enza, which Ladner is opening in partnership with Boston’s Lyons Group, elevated Italian fare is the central theme. According to Boston Magazine, Ladner’s famed 100-layer lasagna that he developed while working at the now-shuttered Del Posto will make an appearance, as will crudo, steak, bar snacks, cocktails, and various antipasti.

“It’s not about pomp and circumstance, it’s about putting food that’s good for your body in your pie-hole, and celebrating local agriculture within the general philosophy and ideology of Italian cuisine,” he told the publication.

When the restaurant opens in September, it will fill the space previously held by two beloved Italian restaurants: Benedetto, which announced its abrupt closure in April, and Jody Adams’s Rialto, which closed in 2016 after more than two decades.

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Stay tuned for more details about Bar Enza’s menu as an opening date nears.

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