Where to: Premiere on Broadway in Somerville’s Magoun Square.
Why: Velvet ropes and velvety oysters, plus music, dancing, and entertainment on the ground floor of 519 Broadway, a five-floor condo.
The backstory: Longtime Somerville developer Charles Zammuto created the property with his wife, Deborah, and three kids as a destination for food, entertainment, and luxe living. Step one: hiring talented former Eataly Boston chef Dan Bazzinotti to lead the culinary team. Before Eataly, he worked at Scampo (where Lydia Shire once admonished his risotto, to lasting effect).
Zammuto’s Warhol-esque paintings hang on the walls: See if you can identify Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, and Mick Jagger. Out front, a red velvet rope separates the street from the sidewalk. Close your eyes, pretend COVID doesn’t exist, and imagine you’re at Studio 54. The booths are dark, the space is vast, and the spirit of John Travolta hangs heavy in the air. Speaking of air: Several tables face the street next to large garage doors, so ventilation-conscious diners should ask to sit against the wall.
What to eat: Italian-American classics. Start with a trio of grilled oysters fra diavolo: the meaty Island Creek variety splashed in spicy tomato sauce and coated in breadcrumbs ($13). Often, bivalves turn oily and rubbery if grilled, but not here. Chicken wings ($12) are perky and plump, coated in a sweet red pepper jelly. My tween approves. If you’re feeding a crowd, order the antipasti board ($28) with cheeses, charcuterie, stuffed peppers, pickles, and olives, one of Bazzinotti’s favorite dishes. Rigatoni della nonna ($28) is a rich mountain of beef ribs, meatballs, house-made sausage, and savory tomato sauce — nothing fancy, but hearty and warm. Potato gnocchi ($22) manages to be both indulgently carby and weightless, despite floating in a puddle of butter. (A dapple of sweet, fresh corn zips it along.) My server suggested that I add slices of silky, tender Peruvian beef hearts ($6) for extra heft, and it was absolutely the right textural call. Also on the menu: chicken parm ($28); sausage, peppers, and onions on a potato roll ($16); and lobster pappardelle with house-made lemon semolina pasta ($32). There’s a kids’ menu (chicken strips, burger, or pasta for $12), if you’re leaving before the dancing begins.
What to drink: Martin Fernandez from the South End’s Beehive serves gin infused with tea and anise; vodka with macerated raspberries, orange peel, and egg white; pistachio martinis; and an assortment of beers from local spots like Winter Hill Brewing Company.
The takeaway: It might not be the best time in history to open a dining and entertainment venue with space for more than 450 people, but Premiere is worth visiting for the food alone, even if you don’t need to step through the velvet rope. Special shoutout to the friendly server who packaged up our food to go, even though the restaurant isn’t formally open for takeout, so my family could make it to a decidedly unglamorous soccer practice on time.
Premiere on Broadway, 519 Broadway, Somerville, 617-996-6838, premiereonbroadway.com.