10 Boston Restaurant Openings We’re Looking Forward to This Spring

Spring is in the air—and so is the aroma of many, many pizzas.

By Jacqueline Cain·

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Charred octopus at Moëca. / Photo by Erik Jacobs Photographic

Greater Boston’s restaurant scene is on the rebound, and there are a lot of exciting openings to look forward to this spring: a homestyle Neapolitan pizza joint in Cambridge, an otherworldly cocktail den in the Back Bay, and a Scottish gastropub in Jamaica Plain, to name a few. Here are the details on the season’s most-anticipated debuts.

Salt + Stone

Attention, hungry shoppers: A few new restaurants are coming soon to Somerville’s food- and retail-jammed Assembly Row development, including a larger location of the North End’s pint-sized Parla as well as Le Macaron, a French patisserie. First up, though, after decades of managing local restaurants, local culinary-industry vets Sean and Sue Olson will open their first independent venture, Salt + Stone, on March 25 in the sprawling space that previously housed the pizza franchise Midici. Their years of industry insight inspires a menu for every diner at Salt + Stone: You’ll find prime steaks, artisan flatbreads, grain bowls, and more. That said, the 155-seat spot, which boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and two massive outdoor patios, is anchored by a raw bar program in partnership with Boston’s own Pangea Shellfish Company, a premium oyster grower and distributor. Expect plenty of seafood, then, from appetizers like New Orleans-style barbecue oysters to entrees of scallop carbonara featuring Lily’s Fresh Pasta (some of the best around). Other menu highlights include the S + S Boardwalk Fries, a cone of ‘taters tossed in a signature specialty-salt seasoning, and a brisket burger crafted for Salt + Stone by the Modern Butcher Shop, which has carved out quite a reputation since opening in Newburyport three years ago.

463 Assembly Row, Somerville, saltandstoneboston.com.

Eva rendering courtesy of Amy Archambault Studio

Eva

A popular Newbury Street restaurant space has undergone a complete, more-than-cosmetic overhaul since we last saw her in 2020. The result? Eva, debuting soon in the former home of Cafeteria, a long-running restaurant that was known for its elevated comfort foods, social scene, and massive sidewalk-side patio. “After 13 amazing years and the pandemic, it felt like the perfect time for a change,” says owner George Aboujaoude. (Um, relatable.) Although the 91-seat terrace will return, designer Tiffany Barqawi is also bringing the outdoors inside, festooning the place with hand-woven raffia lamps, leafy chintz wallpaper, wood décor, and a bright color palette of blues and greens. The revamped food menu, meanwhile, revives select Cafeteria favorites while imbuing more Mediterranean influences into the modern American repertoire—think: grilled octopus with a white bean purée and sun-dried tomato-green olive tapenade; lamb chops with garlic labneh, heirloom potato confit, and mint chimichurri; and brunch dishes like green shakshouka and dulce de leche pancakes. Along with classic cocktails and Champagne trays during weekend brunch, inventive new drinks include a rhubarb Negroni and a concoction of coconut fat-washed tequila with orgeat and Aperol. Eva is set to open within the next few weeks, with general manager Nick Antonucci (Back Bay Social, Committee, Trillium Brewing Company) at the helm.

279A Newbury St., Boston, Instagram.

An illustration from Hecate’s spirited menu of elixirs. / Image by PM Creative

Hecate

A speakeasy two-plus years in the making is about to be unveiled in the Back Bay: Hecate, a European-style cocktail bar opening by early April below its sibling Greek wine bar Krasi, which debuted all the way back in February 2020. Named for the gatekeeping goddess between the mortal and divine worlds (she’s often associated with magic and potion-making), Hecate is designed to feel mysterious and otherworldly, says owner Demetri Tsolakis. For one thing, it has an appropriately secretive entrance, separate from Krasi, that guests will need to find to enter. (At just 24 seats, Hecate is highly intimate and reservations aren’t available, but Tsolakis alludes to a special waiting area for patient parties on deck.) Once inside the subterranean space, the dark ambiance will provide a moody backdrop for bartenders (shall we call them “spirit guides?”) to ply their craft. Beverage director Aliz Meszesi has stocked the bar with unique and exclusive liquors from around the world: Scottish saffron gin, rare cognacs and brandies, and Hungarian herbal liqueurs, for instance. The illustrated drink menu will cover “Rites and Rituals” (a.k.a. signature cocktails), Dry Spells (non-alcoholic drinks), and other offerings—and food-wise, Krasi chef Val Howell will flex his creative muscles with a finger-food snack menu.

10 Boston Restaurant Openings We’re Looking Forward to This Spring

Public Alley 443, Boston, hecatebar.com.

Chef Aidan Mc Gee. / Photo courtesy

The Dubliner

Once upon a time, when chef Aidan Mc Gee treated folks to his Sunday roast at Truscott Arms, a popular London gastropub of the 2010s, his rendition of the classic English feast was deemed the best in Great Britain. Now, Mc Gee is bringing his version of that beloved weekend tradition—and a broader taste of contemporary pub fare—to Boston with the opening of the Dubliner in April. A partnership between the celebrated Irish-born chef and Boston’s East Coast Tavern Group (which is behind standout pub Emmets, among other local concepts), the Dubliner is headed for the former site of the Kinsale, directly across the street from Boston City Hall. Like its predecessor, the Dubliner promises live music and a spot to watch sports—Mc Gee, though, is elevating the menu with seasonal ingredients, locally sourced seafood, and plenty to offer vegetarians and vegans. Along with the special Sunday roast, look forward to dishes like Maine crabs on Irish soda bread with seaweed butter, slow-cooked beef cheeks, curried mussels, and shepherd’s pie made with hill mountain lamb, the breed Mc Gee’s farmer-chef father raised in County Donegal. As for dessert? Mc Gee hails from high-end British destinations such as Foliage at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, but at the Dubliner he’ll have fun offering seasonal flavors of soft-serve ice cream topped with something for American tastes: Lucky Charms cereal.

2 Center Plaza, Boston, thedublinerboston.com.

Moëca photo by Erik Jacobs Photographic

Moëca

For years, Cambridge restaurant Giulia has been celebrated for its earthy rusticity. Now, though, its team is opening something new inspired by the ocean: Moëca, led by chef Michael Pagliarini and his wife and co-owner, Pamela Ralston, is aiming for a late April opening at the Porter Square-side address that formerly housed Luce. And although the raw bar-oriented place is named for a type of soft-shell crab, the food will celebrate all fish—and every part of them. “We’ll cure, smoke, brine, [etc.] to build a larder of complex flavors,” says Pagliarini, who is excited to showcase “daily catch, three ways.” In other words, if local striper is on the menu this summer, you might find a raw preparation, its roasted collar and head enhancing a plate of ravioli, and its grilled loin served with seasonal vegetables. The fin-to-tail menu is still being refined, but expect a range of culinary influences, from cuttlefish risotto with Italian porcini to a Japanese-Peruvian-inflected ceviche. There will be pastas (that’s Giulia’s specialty), and Luce’s old pizza oven has Pagliarini experimenting with flatbreads and seafood pizzas. Finally, the restaurant’s basement will serve as a headquarters where Best of Boston pastry chef Renae Connolly and her expanded crew of pastry cooks can craft gelato and ice cream to accent desserts at Giulia and Moëca, as well as for takeout by the pint.

1 Shepard St., Cambridge, moecarestaurant.com.

Chefs Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer. / Photo courtesy JK Food Group

Faccia BruttaandBar Pallino

Get excited for even more springtime patio vibes: Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette will expand their culinary empire to the Back Bay in May, and we already know that the duo behind Coppa, Toro, and Little Donkey has a way of making places we want to spritz away an afternoon. In this case, they’re actually launching two new concepts: an Italian seafood restaurant called Faccia Brutta, which will have a greenery-draped patio right on Newbury Street, as well as Bar Pallino, an adjacent natural wine-focused spot with its own entrance off the public alley between Gloucester and Fairfield streets. Faccia Brutta will serve seasonal dishes that riff on coastal cuisines of Liguria, Sicily, Sardinia, and elsewhere using New England seafood and produce. (Translation: dishes like scallop carpaccio with silky salumi and black truffle vinaigrette; roasted clams with green garlic and Calabrian chili; and house-made paccheri pasta with rockfish, tomato, and saffron.) Over at Bar Pallino, longtime JK Food Group beverage director Jodie Battles is creating a voguish vibe “inspired by the new generation of Paris wine bars,” complete with a turntable spinning Bissonnette’s personal vinyl collection.

278 Newbury St., Boston, Instagram.

Roundhead founder Luis Espinoza bringing curbside pickup to a customer. / Photo by David Goldberg

Roundhead Brewing

Beer and pizza go together like, well, beer and pizza—and more and more beermakers around the U.S. are pairing the two in their taprooms, as a recent Imbibe feature explores. The latest local example will be Roundhead Brewing Company in Hyde Park, opening later this spring with its own in-house pizza kitchen. Massachusetts’ first Latino-owned brewery will source pie-making ingredients and advice from local-gem market Tutto Italiano, and Roundhead’s head brewer and founder, Luis Espinoza, is also scaling up his longtime-homebrewed recipes for the spot’s five-barrel system. (Espinoza owned a bakery in his native Peru, so one of those beers is a hefeweizen named Liquid Bread.) Co-founder Craig Panzer, a former marketer for Vermont beer brands Otter Creek and Wolaver’s, says the brewhouse and 48-seat taproom—which will have an upper mezzanine level for games like foosball—are under construction with an anticipated opening in May or June. (There’s also an ongoing crowdfunding campaign to lease the second half of the Powerhouse building as a space for private and community events.) In the meanwhile, Espinoza is canning select beers to sell via Thursday curbside pickup in Hyde Park and at select retailers like City Feed and Supply and the Urban Grape.

Powerhouse at Westinghouse Plaza, Boston, roundheadbrewing.com.

Chef Michael Lombardi. / Courtesy photo

Si Cara

Michael Lombardi, chef-partner at the South End’s acclaimed Italian restaurant SRV, is branching out with his first solo venture: Si Cara, whose name translates to “yes, dear.” That’s the response Lombardi, who grew up in New Haven, would receive from his Italian grandma whenever he or his cousins would ask for pizza or another type of treat. While Si Cara, which is destined for the new Market Central development in Cambridge’s Central Square, is a homestyle pizza joint, it won’t look to New Haven’s famous style of pies. Instead, Lombardi is going all in on canotto-style pie, a subset of Neapolitan characterized by an extra-airy, inflated crust. The dough is naturally leavened and long-fermented, and “it’s almost like having a piece of sourdough bread” after a few bites of toppings, he explains. The rest of the succinct menu—salads and vegetable dishes created by chef de cuisine Jess Ngo, Lombardi’s sous at SRV—will round out daily lunch and dinner. Si Cara, on track to open by mid-June, will have a 55-seat interior, 30-seat patio, and a full bar focused on natural wine and classic cocktails. It will also have some exciting Market Central neighbors, including a new location of Shojo, Toscanini’s, and New City Microcreamery. “People can come to us for cocktails and pizza, and then go next door, especially in the nicer weather, and sit outside with an ice cream and espresso,” says Lombardi. “That’s the kind of environment I want to create.”

425 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, sicarapizza.com.

A rendering of the Haven at the Brewery. / Courtesy of Zephyr Architects

The Haven at the Brewery

A new, larger location for Boston’s only Scottish pub is headed for a vibrant Jamaica Plain venue. The Haven at the Brewery will open by mid-June in the former Bella Luna and the Milky Way Lounge. Compared with its current cozy digs in JP’s Hyde Square, the new Haven is expansive, spanning a 50-seat private patio and four distinct indoor areas: There’s the lounge-y “Whisky Room”; “the Snug,” a cozy dining area offset by slatted wall panels in the image of the Scottish flag; a more prominent dining area running along the windows by the Brewery’s parking area; and the Assembly Room (named for an arts center in Edinburgh), a dynamic space with a projector screen, stage, and updated sound system that can be used for private events and public gatherings. In fact, Haven owner Jason Waddleton is already scheming programming for the space, from expanding his popular weekly Scotch tastings (called Dram Nights), to hosting regular comedy shows, dance nights, music performances, and Premier League brunch on weekends. The menu, meanwhile, will expand on the Haven’s authentic Scottish offerings by adding new creations, with a little help from Bella Luna’s former pizza oven. Haggis and black pudding pizzas are on the table, and we’re intrigued.

284 Amory St., Boston, thehavenjp.com.

Fried “chicken” sandwich from PlantPub. / Photo provided

PlantPub Fenway

Although Boston BeerWorks ended its 30-year run in the Fenway shortly after the initial COVID shutdown, its former space won’t stay dry for long: PlantPub will open its second (and much larger) location there in late spring. The plant-based, beer-soaked concept is a collaboration between chef Mary Dumont (an Iron Chef America star and the former executive chef at Harvest and Cultivar) and vegan influencer Pat McAuley (former co-founder of Weymouth brewery Barrel House Z and a triathlete). The original PlantPub debuted as a fast-casual setup in Kendall Square last fall, and the restaurant’s quick growth—the full-service Fenway location is about five times larger than Cambridge—is thanks in no small part to celebrity vegan chef Matthew Kenney, who decided to partner with the PlantPub cofounders after leasing the BeerWorks space himself, he told the Boston Globe. Now Fenway crowds can pre-game over PlantPub’s approachable, vegan spins on bar fare and selection of cool craft beers and beverages (offered mostly from a 24-tap draft system). You’ll still find existing PlantPub favorites, such as fried chicken-style sandwiches stacked with pickles and ranch slaw, sweet potato chili cheese fries slathered in house-made cashew-paprika queso, and hand-pulled noodles and sesame tofu in ginger-lemongrass shiitake broth. The larger location in Fenway will support a bigger menu, though, especially in the dessert category: Vegan sundaes, frappes, and ice cream sandwiches are all in the works.

61 Brookline Ave., Boston, plantpub.com.

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