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Venice comes to Boston at the South End’s SRV

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The baby octopus with preserved lemon at SRV.Dina Rudick

Where to Newly opened Coda Restaurant Group spot SRV, which may sound like a new class of vehicle or a disease you don't want to catch, but in reality pays homage to the Serene Republic of Venice.

What for Reasonably priced cicchetti (snacks), pasta made from flour milled on site, and other Italian specialties in the South End, from chefs Michael Lombardi and Kevin O'Donnell. Their resumes include the Salty Pig, Del Posto in New York, Zeppelin in Orvieto, and L'Office in Paris.

The scene SRV is styled after the Venetian bacaro, or wine bar. There's plenty of white marble, brushed brass, and wrought iron. Lion imagery is found all over Venice, and one roars from a frame above the boudoir-ish, curved-leg hostess stand, painted robin's egg blue. Walls are covered in brick, floors in wood boards and scalloped tile. Green plants sprout from white wall planters. At the bar, in the light of smoky glass globes, a woman with shorn blond hair, big hoop earrings, and a plaid shirt embraces industry colleagues. "We mill our own grains. It's pretty special," one of the bartenders tells her. A man with earplugs and a mustache breaks bread beside a woman dressed all in black, silver cuffs up her arm and a CVS bag hung jauntily from a hook. A gent orders up dessert for himself and his date: "Two affogato, two amaro." She smiles with satisfaction. The courtyard, slated for outdoor dining, is currently covered in snow.

What you're eating Cicchetti, from soft-boiled quail eggs with white anchovy and capers to baby octopus with preserved lemon to meatballs in tomato sauce. Plates featuring vitello tonnato, calf's liver, baby clams with guanciale and garlic bread. Risotto spiked with black truffle and pumpkin, buckwheat bigoli with duck ragu, maltagliati with foraged mushrooms, Parmesan, and shaved egg yolk. "The mushroom thing is bonkers," a staffer says.


Care for a drink? There's a vermouth of the day, a Bicicletta, a house Negroni, plus other thematically fitting cocktails. Most of the beer isn't from Italy, but the wine is.


Overheard "When it comes to food, I'm all in," a woman says to her dining companion, who nods and offers a caveat: "Even though I may be bloated and burping." A staff member stops by to greet visitors: "You guys get some tasty vittles so far? I'll give you a tour when you're ready." A fellow eyes his friend admiringly: "You're the person in high school who just gave a report and I don't want to go after you." A woman sipping an after-dinner Negroni is an early SRV convert: "I already made another reservation while we were sitting here at the bar," she tells a new friend, offering some of her bread. "Disease vectors be damned," exclaims the stranger heartily. "I'd love some of your bread!"

569 Columbus St., South End, Boston, 617-536-9500, www.srvboston.com.

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