A day after Mario Batali announced that he’s bailing on his much-anticipated South Boston restaurant, we know the reason why.
In case you missed it, the celebrity chef whose empire of eateries includes Babbo, Del Posto, Eataly NYC, and OTTO tweeted over the weekend that his plan to open a pizzeria at 320 Summer St. in Fort Point “isn’t looking good right now.”
That was followed Monday by this note on the chef’s Tumblr site: “B&B Hospitality Group is saddened to announce that the project called Babbo Pizzeria and Enoteca originally slated for a fourth quarter open date in the exciting Fort Point district in Boston will not come to fruition. We will continue to look for the perfect location to serve the exciting and vibrant Boston community.”
We called a few of our friends in the restaurant world and were told that Batali and his prospective landlord, Lincoln Property Company, could not agree on a lease. At issue apparently was Batali’s plan to use a wood-burning oven, and the potentially costly system needed to vent the smoke generated by such an oven. Lincoln Property declined to comment Tuesday and the chef could not be reached.
“It’s something that could have been handled with some cooperation by the landlord,” said the owner of a nearby restaurant who asked that his name not be used. “But it was a difficult negotiation and Batali is used to getting what he wants.”
Lisa Timberlake, spokeswoman for Boston’s inspectional services department, said the application process was underway but nothing had been permitted. Even without the ginger-haired chef, Fort Point is fast becoming something of a hub for foodies. Ming Tsai recently opened Blue Dragon on A Street. There’s Tavern Road on Congress Street. George Lewis is opening a pizzeria, and Island Creek Oyster is planning a new place, both on Congress. And Mistral co-owner Seth Greenberg has begun construction of Bastille Kitchen, a new 8,500-square-foot French bistro on Melcher Street.