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The Boston Globe

Food & dining

quick bite

Newton restaurant Cook invites the neighbors

Cook is modern and casual, with gray-painted brick, wood floors, and metal chandeliers with dangling bulbs.

BARRY CHIN/GLOBE STAFF

Cook is modern and casual, with gray-painted brick, wood floors, and metal chandeliers with dangling bulbs.

Cook’s bag of clams.

BARRY CHIN/GLOBE STAFF

Cook’s bag of clams.

Where to Cook, the new Newtonville restaurant from chef-owner Paul Turano of Tryst.

What for With Tryst, Turano created a fun, comfortable haunt for Arlington residents. Now he aims to do the same for the people of Newton.

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The scene Everyone from the neighborhood is here, from 20-somethings to 60-somethings. Couples sit side by side at the bar, the women in black with long hair and the men in plaid or checked button-downs. They have the Friday-night yawns, but they persevere with date night all the same. The room is modern and casual, with gray-painted brick, wood floors, metal chandeliers with dangling bulbs, and chalkboards bearing words such as “stay, bake, raw, crunch, love.” There is plenty of bar space, and a shiny pizza oven turns out flatbread after flatbread for the hungry crowd. Beneath the din, one can hear a soundtrack that includes U2, the Police, and the Cars: comfort food for the ears.

What you’re eating The menu offers snacks such as house-made pretzels and bacon-caramel popcorn; appetizers from fried clams in a bag to udon noodles with ribs; assorted flatbreads, available with gluten-free crust; and entrees including NFC — Newton Fried Chicken, of course. “He’s known for his shrimp tacos at the other place,” a bartender says. And it’s hard to argue with a tortilla smeared with avocado, drizzled in aji crema, and piled high with fried shrimp.

Care for a drink? There’s a short list of draft beer, from craft to commercial, and a chardonnay and cabernet on tap, too. House cocktails riff on classics, as with the Elder Fashion — St. Germain, bourbon, orange bitters, and sweet vermouth.

Overheard Many guests appear to be the parents of young children, and nursery-school life lessons have rubbed off. Rather than fighting for stools, everyone shares. “Were you going to take this seat?” “There’s one at the end.” And everyone is included. “I’m getting stood up,” a solo diner informs the bartender, who is introducing himself and shaking hands with everyone. “You can join us!” offers the couple beside her. Sharing isn’t always easy, though: “Kale is awkward,” says a person attempting to split a salad. Two parents reminisce about a recent trip they took to Disney, for the kids, of course. “I really liked that ‘Toy Story’ ride,” muses the dad, who is wearing several shades of cause-related wristband. “I need a secretary,” sighs an overtaxed mom. Sometimes one just needs to decompress. “Which is your strongest wine?” a woman asks the bartender. Then her dining companion orders: “Can I get sangria with more brandy?”

825 Washington St., Newtonville, 617-964-2665. www.cooknewton.com.

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

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