Food & dining

quick bite

Italian rebellion at Ribelle


Scallops with eggplant, chocolate, and herbs at Ribelle.
Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe
Scallops with eggplant, chocolate, and herbs at Ribelle.

Where to Ribelle, the new Brookline restaurant from chef Tim Maslow, best known for helping turn his father’s Watertown sandwich shop, Strip-T’s, into a dining destination.

What for Italian food, reimagined. Ribelle — pronounced “ri-bell-ay” — is Italian for “rebel.” Expect dishes such as rigatoni with octopus, fennel, and smoked tomato and scallops with eggplant, chocolate, and herbs (top), presented by a team with serious chops. Maslow was formerly a chef at Momofuku in New York, and the staff at Ribelle has collective experience at the likes of Oleana, Craigie on Main, New York’s Gramercy Tavern, and San Francisco’s Quince.

The scene “Ribelle” glows in neon red script outside the restaurant. Inside, it’s so loud you can barely tell what music is playing, so dim you can barely see. In the open kitchen, chefs wear fast food-style caps, white with red stripes. Lights shaped like moon rocks glow above the bar, where shelves are stocked with food-nerd tomes from Noma and PDT. Friends and strangers eat elbow to elbow at live-edge communal tables, seated in wishbone chairs. Here are young and old, food bloggers and well-heeled locals, a man with a bun, a chef from another restaurant. A solo diner claims a stool: “How’s your day been, Barbara?” the bartender asks with a smile.

Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe
Customers enjoying cocktails at Ribelle’s bar.


What you’re eating A dish described as “cherry tomatoes + stracciatella, dehydr8, kimi fig” is caprese salad gone wild. The season’s tiny, sweet tomatoes mingle on the plate with gooseberries, sweet Greek figs, ice-wine vinegar, and delicate strands of fresh mozzarella.

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Care for a drink? A cocktail called From the Hip is smoky, bitter, sweet, and refreshing all at once — it combines mezcal, Campari, falernum, and mint over crushed ice, like a snow cone for adults. The fun continues on the wine list, where glasses are ordered by profile rather than producer or varietal. For instance, White 1 is described as “light and pretty, delicate acidity, back-n-forth flavors of citrus-n-mineral,” while Red 3 is “almost a decade old, a chance to taste bottle age and learn wtf ‘tertiary’ means.”

Overheard Conversations about food — eating it, making it, finding it, tasting it. “Have you been to Babbo’s?” one solo diner asks another. “The rose tastes like a tart Jolly Rancher,” a bartender says. “This is perfectly seasoned,” one patron informs a server. “What’s pamplemousse?” asks another. “It’s a fancy way of saying grapefruit,” comes the reply. A dish of olive oil ice cream with chocolate “magic shell” arrives while a man’s date is in the restroom. “Now’s your chance,” a server says, but the man waits, patient as a dog with a biscuit on his nose. Not everyone is here to eat: “What’s this place called again?” asks a woman dressed for club-hopping. Outside, the Green Line grinds to its best approximation of a sudden halt with a prolonged and angry honk. The restaurant erupts in applause.

1665 Beacon St., Brookline. 617-232-2322.

Devra First can be reached at devra.first@ Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.