This fall brings dozens of new restaurants to the Boston area, with still more to come in the winter months. If operators are worried about market saturation and staffing challenges, that isn’t reflected in the pace of development. We can look forward to scrappy little bistros and grand food halls, projects from first-timers and experienced restaurateurs, wild innovation and old-school technique, and an unusual amount of chicken. (See: Bucktown Chicken & Fish in Mission Hill, HEN Chicken Rice in Union Square, Shy Bird in Kendall Square, Pollo Club in Waltham, and TKK Fried Chicken in Quincy.)
Chef Tiffani Faison, who just opened Italian restaurant Orfano, adds to her portfolio with the seafood-focused Dive Bar and old-school pizza parlor Tenderoni’s. Both will be part of downtown food hall High Street Place, also home to Daiquiris & Daisies, a cocktail bar from Daren Swisher and Joseph Cammarata of backbar and Hojoko; the Farmacy Cafe, featuring healthy organic fare; a sushi sequel (Fuji at High Street Place) and a porchetta purveyor (Pennypacker’s); and more — including Haley Jane, which will serve fried chicken, of course. The Hub on Causeway development is also coming, with a food hall of its own. Hub Hall will have 18 vendors, including APIZZA, a New Haven-style pizza concept from MIDA chef Douglass Williams, and Lily P’s, a (wait for it) fried chicken joint from chef Chris Parsons (Oyster Club). More vendors will be announced soon, with some longtime Boston stalwarts in the mix. Also at the Hub on Causeway, which is adjacent to TD Garden and North Station: Banners Kitchen & Tap, a sports bar opening mid-October, and Guy Fieri’s Tequila Cocina.
Puritan & Company chef Will Gilson plans to open an all-day restaurant, cafe, and bar with a rooftop terrace at Cambridge Crossing, a mixed-use development near the Lechmere T. And the Cunard Building on State Street sees a happy return: Ozcan Ozan, who operated Sultan’s Kitchen downtown for 36 years, is back with Servia. Ozan, from Turkey and the author of “The Sultan’s Kitchen: A Turkish Cookbook,” isn’t fixing what ain’t broke: He’ll serve seasonally inspired Turkish cuisine. (Only time will tell if he’ll offer the vegetarian sampler platter that was one of the area’s best lunch deals.)
Several prominent locations have new tenants: Rochambeau, a French brasserie from the Lyons Group, moves into the old Towne Stove & Spirits space on Boylston in Back Bay. It’s in the hands of a talented team: Nick Calias, who knows from French brasseries (he was formerly at Brasserie Jo), and Matthew Gaudet of the late, lamented Westbridge. (Calias also created the menu for Bar Moxy, opening in the Theatre District’s Moxy Hotel.) Also in Back Bay: Greek meze and wine bar Krasi and cocktail bar Hecate, in the longtime Cafe Jaffa space. Where once was Townsman, on the Greenway at the edge of Chinatown, is now the just-opened Stillwater. Chef Sarah Wade, a “Chopped: Gold Medal Games” champion formerly at Lulu’s Allston, is serving reimagined comfort food. (She grew up in Stillwater, Okla., thus the restaurant’s name.) Concord’s Woods Hill Table gets a city presence, in the Seaport location where Anthony’s Pier 4 once stood. Restaurateur Kristin Canty says Charlie Foster of the Concord location will also be executive chef at Woods Hill at Pier 4, to open in November. The restaurants share the same ethos, and the Seaport menu will feature locally grown organic vegetables, wild and line-caught seafood, grass-fed meats from their own New Hampshire farm, and carefully sourced, non-industrial oils such as ghee, coconut oil, and organic olive oil.
Beyond the city, the dining scene becomes ever more interesting, with experienced chefs looking to Beverly, Lynn — and even, in one case, another country altogether. Here are some of the most interesting restaurants on the horizon.
In 2007, Tim and Nancy Cushman opened O Ya, a serene hideaway near South Station that offered diners a new view of Japanese food and an education in sake. Since then, they’ve brought O Ya to New York, and debuted Hojoko, Gogo Ya, and Ms. Clucks Deluxe Chicken & Dumplings in Boston. Now they move outside the city with Bianca, coming to Chestnut Hill shopping center The Street. They plan to open around the holidays or shortly thereafter.
Although the name means “white” in Italian, Bianca isn’t an Italian restaurant; it’s a reference to the color of a clean plate, sort of like the restaurant version of a blank slate. “That lets us do whatever we want to do,” says Tim Cushman. “We want an American restaurant, and that can mean almost anything these days.”
The aim is for Bianca to serve the neighborhood in many capacities, from date night to weekend brunch with the kids — for it to be somewhere nice, comfortable, fun, and family-friendly that means locals don’t have to drive into the city, says Nancy Cushman. There will be plenty of wood cooking: a smoker, wood grills, wood rotisserie, and wood-burning ovens. And although Bianca isn’t Italian, there will be a few pizzas on the menu.
“Tim is obsessed with pizza,” says Nancy.
“I am obsessed with pizza,” Tim confirms with a laugh.
47 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, @bianca_chestnuthill
O Ya in Mexico City
The pair is also looking beyond Chestnut Hill — far beyond. On Thursday, the team opens a new branch of O Ya, in Mexico City. Restaurateur Javier Romo visited O Ya on a trip to Boston and fell for the restaurant. He was convinced the concept would translate well. The result is a collaboration in the Polanco neighborhood, home to Pujol and other well-known restaurants.
“Our food is bold for Japanese traditional tastes,” says Tim Cushman. “We use chiles and serious umami, intense flavors. That’s why we think it will be a good fit here. Mexican culture likes those flavors.” The format of the menu will be similar to Boston’s: about 50 dishes a la carte, with two tasting menus of 18 and 22 courses. It will include some of O Ya’s most popular dishes from Boston, but it will also include ingredients native to Mexico, such as fish, avocados, and herbs. The kitchen will make miso from vaquita beans, incorporate local baby corn into a “baby elote nigiri,” and serve warm dessert tamales with truffle creme anglaise poured tableside.
There are about 20 kinds of sake on the menu. They weren’t easy to get, Nancy Cushman says. Just as she was on the forefront of the sake scene in Boston, she hopes to help it grow in Mexico City. The O Ya team worked closely with the Mexico-based staff, who came to Boston for training.
When the Cushmans opened O Ya in Boston 12 years ago, Nancy says, they wouldn’t have believed they’d one day be doing the same in Mexico City. What will the future bring? One possibility: O Ya in Tokyo. “If we say it out loud enough, we think it will happen one day. It’s always something we talk about.”
Anatole France 70, Col. Polanco, Del. Alvaro Obregon, CP 11540, Cd. Mexico, 01 55 5266 4226, www.o-ya.restaurant
El Tacuba Cocina & Tequila Bar
The team behind Tenoch, the fast-casual restaurants justifiably beloved for their delicious tortas, plans to open a full-service spot in Medford Square. Brothers Alvaro and Andres Sandoval are currently eyeing a late November debut for El Tacuba. The restaurant will offer the Mexican dishes customers have come to expect, along with seafood specialties from the owners’ native Veracruz. Expect tequila, mezcal, and craft beer as well. “We are excited,” says Alvaro Sandoval. “We think it’s something the square needs.”
35 Salem St., Medford, www.eltacuba.com
Frank McClelland came to L’Espalier as a young chef de cuisine in 1980 and went on to own the restaurant, one of Boston’s finest until it closed at the end of 2018. There he was instrumental in bringing the farm-to-table movement to the city. He spent much of his childhood living with his grandparents on their farm in New Hampshire, and a love of local ingredients is in his DNA.
Now he will be showcasing those ingredients at Frank, his fittingly named new venture in Beverly, which will open sometime before the holidays. “I’m going to cook what I want, which I’ve always done, don’t get me wrong, but this is a little more rustic: out of the garden and onto the plate, simple and so delicious,” he says. That might mean anything from a lobster roll to ramen to duck-for-two, a more relaxed version of a L’Espalier signature.
Frank will be part restaurant (open for lunch and dinner) and part market/cafe, offering prepared meals (think: takeout spiced roast chicken), wine and beer, and jams, hot sauce, and other pantry staples. Many will be made in house using recipes from McClelland’s grandmother and great-grandmother. The sensibility will be very New England, he says. “I grew up here. I’m a New England kid.” Eventually he hopes to expand the retail portion to other locations.
In some ways, Frank is very different from L’Espalier, which offered formal dining and multicourse tasting menus. In some ways, it’s not that different at all. “What I love to do is run a team and chase perfection, in a different way,” he says.
110 Rantoul St., Beverly, www.farmtofrank.com
Select Oyster Bar chef-owner Michael Serpa is bringing something different to the same Back Bay neighborhood. Grand Tour is around the corner in what he calls a “little tiny building” on Newbury Street. (The restaurant is named for the three Grand Tours of professional cycling.) The space that used to be a smoothie shop is being transformed into a Parisian bistro (“but not, like, a French bistro,” he stresses). It will be charming, urban, and fun, he says. The menu is likely to include cheese and charcuterie, steak frites, rabbit in mustard sauce, and other simple yet thoughtful fare. In season, the patio will be a fine place to tuck into tartare over a bottle of wine.
314 Newbury St., Back Bay, Boston, www.grandtourboston.com
“I always wanted a daughter,” says chef Shi Mei. “When I get older, I know my son won’t take care of me.” He laughs.
It’s a good enough reason to give his forthcoming restaurant the name he and his wife would have used if they’d had a girl: Lenox Sophia.
Mei grew up in the South End, then moved around a little bit: to California, where he worked at Yountville’s famed French Laundry for a year, becoming a saucier; to Texas, where he worked with San Antonio restaurateur Jason Dady at restaurants like Bin 555. But he still has family in the area, and his wife, who went to college here, wanted to return. It seemed right to come home to open his own place.
Lenox Sophia is taking over the former KO Catering & Pies space in South Boston. Mei plans to keep things small, with about 16 to 18 seats. He hopes to open sometime this winter (in the meantime he’s been working at local restaurants like Asta and Whaling in Oklahoma). As for the food, it will be modern American, incorporating French, Italian, and Asian influences. “I call it casual fine dining without the fuss,” he says. “You just walk in here and it’s very casual, but with very refined techniques.”
87 A St., South Boston
Nightshade Noodle Bar
Chef Rachel Miller worked her way up through kitchens at well-known restaurants like Bondir and Clio. She was chef de cuisine at the latter when it closed. “That was a pretty pivotal point because I couldn’t find a job I wanted,” she says. At the same time, she was falling in love with Vietnamese cuisine. “I would fall into YouTube wormholes of cooking videos. I became completely enveloped in Vietnamese food really quickly. It’s all I wanted to eat, all I wanted to cook, all I wanted to read about.”
In 2017, she started a pop-up called Nightshade, serving the kind of food she couldn’t stop thinking about, utilizing the kind of technique she learned working with chefs such as Jason Bond and Ken Oringer. “I was able to find my own voice,” she says. “That’s just how it happened.”
Now, after more than 60 pop-ups, Nightshade is putting down roots in Lynn. Nightshade Noodle Bar will open in early October, serving lunch, brunch, and dinner. The small menu will change frequently, featuring new dishes as well as some of the pop-up’s greatest hits. That might mean something traditional like the Vietnamese crab soup bun rieu, or a riff on the noodle dish mi quang; one Nightshade version featured the turmeric noodles with skate wing and spicy clams.
Nightshade is located in a small space right downtown, a block from the train station. It used to be the Campus Coffee Shop. Miller, a Lynn resident, developed a relationship with the people who owned it for more than 30 years. When they wanted to retire, things just worked out. Nightshade Noodle Bar puts the focus on the word “bar”: It has a full liquor license, and almost all of the tables are high-tops. Miller’s partner, Liana Van de Water, is the wine director; John Groh (Tavern Road, Downeast Cider House) is bar manager; and pastry chef Rae Murphy, of pop-up bakery Plum Delicious (you may have eaten her creations at Field & Vine or Sarma), will bake sweets and bread for banh mi.
73 Exchange St., Lynn, www.nightshadenoodlebar.com
Cambridge restaurant Loyal Nine focuses on the culinary traditions of New England. So it makes sense that the team behind it is opening a restaurant within a historic copper rolling mill at the Paul Revere Heritage Site in Canton. They hope to open Northern Spy in late fall. “If not then, fresh in the new year,” says co-owner Daniel Myers. “It’s always a moving target.”
While Loyal Nine has showcased recipes and techniques of yore, Northern Spy takes inspiration from more-recent local history: the restaurants Myers ate at growing up in Central Massachusetts. “You’d drive three or four towns over to have dinner because they deliver your popovers in a basket. We are only going deeper into that. What is the perfect baked stuffed scrod?”
At Northern Spy, much of the cooking will be done over open fire. Chef Marc Sheehan oversees a gloriously classic menu: clam chowder, hot buttered crab on Parker House rolls, prime rib, a pork chop. “The most exciting thing for us is working on the kids’ menu,” Myers says. “I have a 2-year-old son and I’m looking constantly for somewhere to bring him to eat, but not a prepackaged, pre-frozen item or something from the deep-fat fryer.” Northern Spy is figuring out how to sneak in vegetables, make baked fish sticks, and generally create things kids want to eat, even without ketchup.
96 Revere St., Canton
Chef Jose Duarte is always a little bit ahead of his time. He has long been one of the area’s biggest champions of Peruvian cuisine, now gaining popularity: It’s been almost 20 years since he opened Taranta in the North End, infusing Italian food with aji amarillo, huacatay, and other ingredients from the country where he was born. He has also long been a leader when it comes to green restaurant practices. And he’s spent the past four years working to create an eco-lodge in Huaripampa, Peru, to support the local agricultural Andean community. “We will consume everything we produce,” he says. “We basically only bring in salt, olive oil, and coffee. The rest of the stuff we can source there. We sweeten things with honey, use produce from the garden, grains to make the flour, etc.” The ultimate goal is to connect the producers with the global community, cutting out the middleman so they can sell directly to consumers.
Then there’s his new project closer to home, for which he has partnered with Taranta general manager Taylor Choquet. Both live in Chelsea, and Duarte has wanted to open a restaurant there for years. Tambo 22 also makes connections between produce, labor, and people, Duarte says. “The word ‘tambo’ means a place to rest and eat and recharge.” During the time of the Incan Empire, mail was delivered by chasquis, runners who would transport messages from one tambo to another in a giant relay. Chelsea’s Tambo has about 20 seats and will serve a Peruvian menu of anticuchos (skewers), ceviche, papas rellenas, lomo saltado (and paiche saltado, made with the Amazonian fish), and more. Chris Titus, who worked at Taranta and Future Chefs, will lead the kitchen. The wine list will be mostly South American, focusing on biodynamic and natural wine, and they are trying to bring in a few Peruvian craft beers that aren’t currently available here. “We will work with local breweries like Mystic and Night Shift, and perhaps eventually collaborate doing a brew using unique Peruvian ingredients,” Duarte says.
One of his great interests is the intersection of technology and food, and how they might be utilized together in the name of sustainability and progress. Duarte is collaborating with an MIT fabrication lab to develop a small vertical farm simulating Peruvian ecosystems inside Tambo 22. “If we can contribute directly to the community by having some guided tours and seminars, teaching the children from local schools about tech and working on projects with them, it will be really good for the community,” he says.
His collaboration with MIT is a real motivation for him at this point in his career, he says. “How to achieve the perfect burger, I’m sure I can do that. Get good ingredients and mix it up. But how can we grow the burger? That’s how people should be thinking.”
22 Adams St., Chelsea, 978-766-4648, www.tambo22chelsea.com