Where to Grassona’s Italian, a revamping of Brookline’s Fairsted Kitchen, from the same team and in the same space.
What for Homey, red-sauce Italian with a (slightly) modernized sensibility.
The scene A small but bustling dining room decorated in beige and cream, with accents of burgundy that make you want a glass of red wine. “Grassona’s Italian” is painted on one wall. There are raffia-wrapped wine bottles with wax dripping down the sides; jars of pasta, olives, and red peppers on display; flickering candlelight. The midweek mood is mellow: happy reunions among friends, a mother and son sharing dinner, what appears to be a date. At the tiny bar, a woman in a red sweater sips a cocktail with pleasure.
What you’re eating Tweaked classics. Appetizers include meatballs with pickled mustard seed gremolata, oxtail arancini with caper salsa verde, mussels fra diavolo, and antipasto platters. There’s pasta aplenty, from fettuccine Alfredo to pappardelle Bolognese with roasted kale to lasagna alla Norma with caponata and parsnip crema. For entrees, expect mushroom risotto; whole, bone-in branzino piccata; veal porterhouse saltimbocca with Fontina polenta, prosciutto, and sage; and more. Dessert might be chocolate budino, espresso semifreddo, or a cheese plate.
Care for a drink? Start with a classic cocktail (Gibson, Old Fashioned) or a house creation (Nibgroni, anyone?). There’s a rotating sour on draft, along with a handful of other beers. A concise wine list hits the right notes — from $8 glasses of the house red or white to a $25 glass of a higher-end wine the restaurant wants to showcase. (Recently, it was a 2012 Brunello di Montalcino; you can also try a half-glass for $13.) There are Italian sodas, too.
Overheard Talk about the freelance life, the joys of dating, and the power of a good Manhattan. “We’ve been so busy,” a bartender tells a woman who is shaking powdered Parmesan on her pasta. A man on a cellphone hugs his friends as they arrive, stage-whispering: “It’s so good to see you! Sorry I’m on a call.” Someone gazes into a plate of pasta and exclaims, “Oh, look! The bacon strips are forming a heart.” At one table, an assessment of a romantic prospect is taking place: “He has good posture. He has excellent fashion sense.” “My IT guy is pretty good,” someone brags. A friend looks at him skeptically: “Is it you?”
1704 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-396-8752, www.grassonasitalian.com