The most exciting new local restaurants coming soon to the Boston area
Double delis. Cat cafes. Inspirations from Mexico and Maine. Swank steakhouses, cigar bars, smoked-meat sequels. The local dining landscape continues to flourish, with new restaurants arriving apace this fall and winter. In the last few weeks alone, we’ve seen the opening of an exciting array: Anoush’ella, an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant in the South End drawing on restaurateur Nina Festekjian’s Armenian and Lebanese heritage. Field & Vine, in the former Journeyman space in Somerville’s Union Square, turning New England produce and seafood into dishes such as grilled beets with peaches, halloumi, and basil and fried chicken with pickled-ramp ranch dressing. Oasis Vegan Veggie Parlor, bringing curry chickpea stew, vegan mac and cheese, juices and smoothies, and other healthful fare to Dorchester’s Four Corners. Prairie Fire in Brookline, from the team behind Steel & Rye, cooking everything from oysters to vegetables to pizza over a wood fire.
And that’s just the beginning. Dozens of openings are pending in the coming weeks and months. Here are a few highlights.
Bow Market Boston Public Market opened in 2015. Think of Bow Market as its very Somervillian cousin — smaller, groovier. Partners Matthew Boyes-Watson and Zachary Baum have taken over a former storage building in Union Square and are turning it into two stories of small storefronts clustered around a public courtyard. About half will be retail, the other half devoted to food and drink, with 14 of the latter. They include Buenas, serving up empanadas and handmade jarred sauces (chimichurri, dulce de leche); Jaju Pierogi; macaron purveyor Maca; North South, serving North Shore roast beef and South Shore bar pies, from the same people who run Mike & Patty’s; and Remnant Brewing. “Most of our precedents weren’t in this country,” says Boyes-Watson. “If you wanted to compare it to somewhere, you might think about Time Out Market in Lisbon. We took a lot of design cues from the souks of Marrakech. There are some similarities to the Ferry Building in San Francisco.” Bow Market is designed to appeal to locals and tourists alike, he says. You’ll have to wait a bit, though: Expect an opening in the spring of 2018. 337 Somerville Ave., Union Square, Somerville, www.bowmarketsomerville.com
Buttonwood This is a sister restaurant to Newton’s Sycamore, as you might be able to tell from the name: Sycamore trees are also called buttonwoods. If Sycamore feels like a little bit more of an occasion, Buttonwood aims to be the place you want to eat a couple of times a week, says chef-owner Dave Punch, who is also behind Little Big Diner. “We’re trying to create the ultimate neighborhood restaurant. . . . Sycamore meets Highland Kitchen meets Branch Line meets Brewer’s Fork.” It takes over the space that was 51 Lincoln, which is being remodeled. The chef de cuisine is Francisco Millan, who has worked at places like Benedetto, Row 34, and Island Creek Oyster Bar. The menu will have a “killer burger,” of course, but also more-eclectic fare: rillettes with sourdough bread, wild-mushroom potpie, salt-cod cassoulet, grilled fish and steak. Punch wants there to be smoke and steam and dishes set right on the table straight from the oven, a spoon stuck into the contents for scooping, melty, stretchy cheese threatening to drop onto the table when you serve. It’s a bunch of beer nerds running the show, so expect 10 taps with selections from small breweries, plus cocktails and a heavily Iberian wine list. Buttonwood will start serving dinner in late fall, and Sunday brunch should follow a few months later. 51 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands, www.buttonwoodnewton.com
Citrus & Salt Chef Jason Santos has had a bunch of lives. He gained a following at Gargoyles in Davis Square years ago, reinvented himself as a celebrity chef via the reality show “Hell’s Kitchen,” went through a molecular phase where liquid nitrogen was frequently employed, embraced comfortable hospitality in the form of places like Abby Lane and Back Bay Harry’s. The common thread has always been a sense of fun. These days he’s combining that with a renewed passion for cooking. Example A: Buttermilk & Bourbon, his Back Bay spot with a New Orleans inflection and plenty of fried chicken. “I feel like it’s taken me a while to find my way,” he says. “What I’m doing at Buttermilk I love more than anything. I woke the dragon.”
Now Example B is on its way. He’s remaking the Back Bay Harry’s space into a “coastal Mexican” restaurant called Citrus & Salt. Santos grew up in Arizona eating a lot of Mexican food. “It’s the last piece of the puzzle for me in terms of what I really love about food,” he says. “New Orleans and Mexico are my two passions.” Citrus & Salt won’t be a taqueria, although there may be a taco or two on the menu. It will feature blue cornmeal biscuits, cactus and crab chowder, smoked jalapeno butter-poached shrimp, braised lamb neck tortas, fresh fish off the plancha, and the likes of churros and pineapple soft serve for dessert. To drink: frozen margaritas, a coffee tequila drink on tap, cocktails garnished with paletas (Mexican popsicles). The space will be “fun and funky,” with plenty of beachy-feeling blues and whites, painted murals on the floors, and a lounge in the back. Planned opening date: Oct. 31. 142 Berkeley St., Back Bay, Boston, 617-424-6711
Eventide If you’ve been to this Portland, Maine, spot specializing in seafood, you probably love it already. Eventide Oyster Co. has a cult following, and there’s nearly always a line to get in. When chefs Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor won a James Beard award in May, it didn’t make getting a seat any easier. Now a branch arrives in the Fenway. Much will be different, and much the same. The biggest change: This will be a fast-casual iteration of Eventide. Customers order at the counter, leave a cellphone number, and receive a text when their food is ready. But co-owners Wiley, Taylor, and Arlin Smith aim to maintain the feeling of hospitality from the original restaurant. Staffers will circulate, checking in on people, maybe reupping oyster orders so they don’t have to wait in line again or seeing if anyone needs a drink refill. “At so many fast-casual restaurants, the instant you give them your money, you’re dead to them,” Wiley says. “We want it to feel less like a bland transaction.”
What’s the same: A focus on oysters, for one thing. The first thing you’ll see when you enter will be a big piece of carved-out granite, filled with ice and oysters from Maine and Massachusetts. The food, says Wiley, will be Eventide’s greatest hits: “People who have loved the food they’ve had in Portland are going to find almost everything, with the exception of a few specials.” That means the likes of tuna crudo, New England clam chowder, lobster stew, and, yes, the famed brown-butter lobster roll, served on a steamed bun. The new kitchen has bells and whistles the old one lacks, so they’ll also be able to try some new things, Wiley says. The bar will offer draft beer and wine, plus small bottles of bubbly. Longtime beverage director John R. Myers moved to Boston to oversee the new restaurant, and Ian Maschal (Menton, Bar Mezzana) is the chef de cuisine. Eventide Fenway opens in October; to answer your next question, you’ll still need to drive to Portland to visit sister restaurant the Honey Paw. There are currently no plans to open one in Boston, Wiley says. 1321 Boylston St., Fenway, Boston, 617-545-1060, www.eventideoysterco.com
Momi Nonmi We discovered chef Chris Chung’s talent at places like Uni and Aka Bistro. It will be exciting to see what he does at this new place. This little spot was East by Northeast before it became WuBurger, and Chung returns it to the realm of Asian small plates. Momi Nonmi is a “modern izakaya,” a sort of Japanese gastropub; its menu is also 95 percent gluten-free. “I see there’s a lot of people having more [gluten intolerance], and I don’t see there’s a lot of choice,” Chung says. He’ll be serving tempura; oyakodon, the chicken, egg, and rice dish; and okonomiyaki, a pancake-esque creation chock-full of cabbage and more. Chung, who is from Honolulu, also weaves in some Hawaiian dishes, like poke and a take on the loco moco (a beef patty with fried egg over rice) instead of the standard burger. There won’t be sushi, but Chung will still be preparing the sashimi for which he is known. Late at night, look for takoyaki and other small bites, passed around like dim sum. “I want to be an izakaya like I have back home in Hawaii,” Chung says. “More simple food, less ingredients. It doesn’t have to be too complicated.” Stephen Connolly, who was the sake sommelier at Uni, is putting together a sake program; the bar also features Japanese whiskey and soju. As for the name, “momi” means “pearl” in Hawaiian, Chung says. But it’s also the name of his Pomeranian. (The nearby Pagu takes its name from the Japanese word for “pug.” One more and it’s a trend.) “Nonbei” is Japanese slang for someone who likes to drink; “nonmi” is a play on that. Chung plans to open at the end of September or beginning of October. 1128 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge, www.mominonmi.com
Our Fathers Restaurant & Delicatessen The dearth of local delis is a longtime lament, but things are starting to change with newcomers like Mamaleh’s and Moody’s. The latter, in Waltham, is opening a second location soon in Back Bay. And “before the end of the year” — that’s as specific as co-owner Dave DuBois wants to get — the Franklin Restaurant Group (Citizen Public House, the Franklin Cafe, Tasty Burger) will open Our Fathers, slicing pastrami in Lower Allston. One side of the place is takeout. “You walk in, you get a hand-cut sandwich, and walk out,” DuBois says. The other side is a restaurant with a full bar: There will be a dozen local microbrews on tap, a wine program that incorporates kosher selections, and craft cocktails. Just as Citizen Public House focuses on whiskey, Our Fathers aims to be a serious gin bar. The look is midcentury modern, there’s outdoor bar seating, and in addition to sandwiches you’ll find smoked fish, matzo ball soup, and entrees that combine elements of “modern Jewish cuisine as well as what’s going on in the historical deli cuisine,” DuBois says.
Finding the balance can be tricky. “Everybody has really nostalgic visions of deli food, and if they were to get transported back in time, I’m not sure with their modern eating style and modern food vernacular that they’d be so comfortable with those delis of their memory,” DuBois says. “So the challenge is how to modernize the concept and still stay true to it.” For instance, when creating their pastrami recipe, they steered clear of heavy smoke and spice, opting for a lighter, brighter flavor. “It ain’t easy to do,” DuBois says. “It took a long time.” He won’t divulge exactly who is executing this recipe, but it’s an outfit with more than four generations of experience, he says. When it comes to deli meats, places like Langer’s in LA and Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, Mich., “just own it,” he says. “We want to be one of those people in Boston who own that as well.” 196 North Harvard St., Allston, www.ourfathersdeli.com