Boston-area restaurants, and our appetites for them, seem to be irrepressible. Despite the pandemic, a labor shortage, increased food costs, and supply chain challenges, exciting new places to eat continue to appear. This fall, like any other, brings a full roster of recently opened and soon-to-debut establishments. Here are some to visit right now, and some to look forward to on the horizon.
Italian cuisine might be the closest thing to a sure bet in the restaurant business, and this area has always had stellar options — in the North End, sure, but also just about every town and neighborhood. This is a particularly strong season for it. In Harvard Square, Bar Enza opened at the Charles Hotel, with chef Mark Ladner (formerly of New York’s acclaimed Del Posto) at the helm. In East Cambridge, Puritan & Company chef Will Gilson opened Geppetto, part of his three-restaurant complex at the Cambridge Crossing development (Cafe Beatrice and The Lexington opened last year). Coming soon to Newton is da LaPosta, named for the family of chef and pizzaiolo Mario LaPosta (Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca); it will feature wood-fired pizza, of course, along with handmade pasta and other rustic, seasonal fare.
One of the buzziest new spots is Bar Volpe, from Karen Akunowicz of “Top Chef All Stars” fame. It’s just a quick trot away from the James Beard Award winner’s other South Boston restaurant, Fox & the Knife. Both serve Italian fare; while Fox & the Knife’s culinary heart lies with Modena in the north, the focus at Bar Volpe is on Southern Italy. Come here to watch the noodles being made, then tuck into curlgiones, stuffed Sardinian pasta with potato, goat cheese, and tomato sugo; spaghetti al limone with crab; ravioli with stuffed eggplant; and more. Of course, there’s more to life than pasta — like marinated mozzarella, roast chicken with black truffles and kale, wood-fired seafood dishes, Negronis aplenty, and a wine selection from Kristie Weiss (Nathalie). Be prepared for a wait: There was reportedly a line around the block to get in on opening day.
Japan is also in the culinary spotlight. Menya Jiro, a ramen chain founded in Kagoshima with an outpost in Brooklyn, is settling here. Noodle soups including the jumbo “Jiro Monster” are available in Harvard Square, with more branches planned for the Seaport and Legacy Place in Dedham. At downtown food hall Hub Hall — opened in September and featuring food from the likes of APIZZA by MIDA, Cusser’s, GreCo, and Lily P’s Fried Chicken — there’s a new addition: Momosan Ramen, from “Iron Chef” star and restaurateur Masaharu Morimoto. Along with a half-dozen takes on ramen, the menu features Peking duck with tortillas and sauces, tuna sashimi pizza, sushi, and all manner of things grilled and skewered. Malden is home to the newish Omori Izakaya & Sushi, an offshoot of Brookline’s Omori Izakaya. Come here for yakitori, donburi, a wide array of sushi rolls, and more.
The one I’m most anticipating is Judy’s Bay, a “New England izakaya” taking stewardship of the cozy space that was long Bondir. It comes from Lukas Dow and Kim Vo, spouses and hosts of a series of Asian-inspired barbecue pop-ups running since 2018. Dow, who has worked at restaurants such as Cafe Sushi, L’Espalier, and Mei Mei, will take on chef duties; he is also a hip-hop artist and cofounder of the nonprofit Cambridge Hip-Hop Collective. Vo, a career coach and negotiation consultant, oversees the business side. The menu will highlight fresh seafood, Japanese-inspired dishes, and the drinks that are fundamental to the izakaya experience. Opening soon, the restaurant is named for Dow’s grandmother, Judy. She and husband Anthony ran Wah May restaurant in Fairhaven for 30 years.
French fare gets a new outpost in the Seaport with Coquette, at the Omni Boston Hotel. It’s from the people behind stylish spots such as Lolita, Mariel, Ruka, and Yvonne’s. See and be seen while sampling seafood towers, duck confit flatbreads, Provencal spinach dumplings, and beef cheeks and sipping martinis. When you’ve soaked in enough flirty French beach vacation vibes, head to Back Bay for some city energy at Cafe Sauvage. The neighborhood bistro from wife-husband team Anais and Antoine Lambert showcases multicultural Paris, with a menu that includes banh mi and injera crepes alongside onion soup and steak frites. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and brunch in addition to dinner. The couple has worked at places like Colette and Frenchie; executive chef Kendall DaCosta was at Bastille Kitchen.
Beacon Hill will also have a new neighborhood spot, 1928 Beacon Hill, in the longtime Lala Rokh space. The chef is Dante Funes, formerly of Masa, Ghost Pepper, Southern Proper, and more.
The plant-based food scene continues to grow. Mother and daughter Sahar Ahmed and Dina Fahim started Koshari Mama at farmers’ markets around Massachusetts, then operated as a pop-up at Bow Market. Now it is a Somerville restaurant specializing in vegan Egyptian street food — particularly namesake dish koshari, a mixture of rice, lentils, pasta, chickpeas, and fried onions. Order it mild, incendiary, or in between, with your choice of sauce. Eggplant-rice bowls, mushroom shwarma, falafel, and assorted dips are also on the menu. (Another Egyptian restaurant, Kushari & Grill, has also opened in Medford, with meat on the menu.) In Kendall Square, chef Mary Dumont (Cultivar, Harvest) has opened PlantPub with partner Pat McAuley, who was behind plant-based beerhall Rewild in Quincy. PlantPub picks up Rewild’s baton, serving craft beer and plant-based pub fare. Think Buffalo cauliflower, loaded nachos, burgers, pizza, and soft-serve.
Another new draw for beer geeks: Castle Island Brewing Co. now has a South Boston taproom serving up all of the beer along with food from Bardo’s Bar Pizza (there are salads, sandwiches, and wings in addition to South Shore-style bar pies). In Hyde Park, a taproom is coming from Roundhead Brewing Co., the first Latino-owned brewery in Massachusetts. It was started by head brewer Luis Espinoza and Craig Panzer, who met through their kids’ soccer league. In the meantime, you can sample the wares at the outdoor Aji Seco beer garden Nov. 12 and 19. And for those who miss Bukowski’s in Inman Square, you can still drink beer, plus enjoy global street food, at gastropub Drifter’s Tale, which has taken over the space.
And now for dessert. In Revere, Beyrut Espresso is serving up Lebanese and other baked goods, coffee, and more. From the Kimchipapi Kitchen team, Pon de Joy has mochi doughnuts for you, inside the Super 88 Market in Allston. And Zuzu’s Petals is a magical unicorn of delight: a cellphone-free wine and dessert bar where you can nibble cheese boards and Sacher torte while toasting the lack of devices. In the former City Girl Cafe space, it is from the owners of Somerville bonbon shop gâté comme des filles and specialty food store Picnic & Pantry.
I’ll see you there. In the meantime, here are a few more places to look forward to down the road: Comfort Kitchen, the Uphams Corner brick-and-mortar currently in pop-up mode in Jamaica Plain; Dear Annie, serving natural wine and sustainable food in Cambridge, from the folks behind Field & Vine and Rebel Rebel; the Haven at the Brewery, a collaboration between Scottish tavern The Haven and the former Bella Luna, in JP; Nash Bar in the Theatre District, serving up Nashville-inspired food and maybe some line dancing in the former Abby Lane space; and Wusong Road, serving American-style Chinese food and tiki drinks in the Harvard Square space that was Les Sablons, from chef Jason Doo (Menton) and business partner Thomas Brush (Felipe’s Taqueria).
If you go . . .
1928 Beacon Hill, 97 Mount Vernon St., Beacon Hill, Boston, 857-233-5662, 1928beaconhill.com.
Bar Enza, 1 Bennett St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-661-5050, www.bar-enza.com.
Bar Volpe, 170 W. Broadway, South Boston, 617-865-7100, www.barvolpe.com.
Beyrut Espresso, 3 Everett St., Unit 3C, Revere, 781-629-5400, beyrut-espresso.business.site.
Cafe Sauvage, 25 Massachusetts Ave., Back Bay, Boston, 857-277-0075, www.cafesauvage.com.
Castle Island Brewing Co., 10 Old Colony Ave., South Boston, 617-977-4017, www.castleislandbeer.com.
Coquette, 450 Summer St., Seaport, Boston, 617-419-8140, www.frenchcoquette.com.
da La Posta, 825 Washington St., Newton, www.dalaposta.com.
Drifter’s Tale, 1281 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge, 617-714-5712, www.drifterstale.com.
Geppetto, 100 N. First St., Cambridge, 617-945-1349, www.thelexingtoncx.com/geppetto.
Judy’s Bay, 279A Broadway, Cambridge, www.judysbay.com.
Koshari Mama, 585 Somerville Ave., Somerville, 617-229-9230, www.kosharimama.com.
Kushari & Grill, 321 Boston Ave., Medford, 781-874-1536, www.kushariandgrill.com.
Menya Jiro, 57 John F. Kennedy St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-945-1002, www.menyajiro-boston.com.
Momosan Ramen, 80 Causeway St., Boston, 617-263-8900, www.hubhallboston.com.
Omori Izakaya & Sushi, 166 Eastern Ave., Malden, 781-321-8600, www.omorisushimalden.com.
Plant Pub, 675 West Kendall St., Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-714-5452, www.plantpub.com.
Pon de Joy, 1 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617-208-8885, www.pondejoy.com.
Roundhead Brewing Co., Powerhouse at Westinghouse Plaza, 1 Westinghouse Plaza, Hyde Park, www.roundheadbrewing.com.
Zuzu’s Petals, 204 Hampshire St., Inman Square, Cambridge, 617-945-7749, www.zuzuspetalscambridge.com.