WHO’S IN CHARGE Passport Sips & Tapas is back. The popular restaurant in Weymouth Landing that shut its doors in 2017 due to construction on the block has reopened with new owners. Eric Orozco, who bartended at the old Passport before it closed, and his wife, Inga, bought the restaurant from its former owner. After undertaking a total renovation, the Orozcos, who live in Holbrook but come from Brooklyn, reopened in November 2018. The couple developed the menu with their chef, Jon Olson, who came to Passport from previous stints at several South Shore spots including Kingston’s lovely Solstice. Eric Orozco is still at the bar, making his great craft cocktails, only now it’s his. “We’re looking to bring a little NYC to the area,” said Inga.
THE LOCALE The 55-seat corner spot has floor-to-ceiling windows that open in the warmer weather, a pretty copper bar, and a laid-back, sophisticated design. A curved ceiling feature unifies the front bar side — with its high-top tables — and the main dining room. One great thing about the aforementioned construction (a 21-unit apartment building behind Passport on Front Street) is that its underground garage will have 16 parking spaces for Passport guests and is due to open soon. On two recent weekday evenings the place was busy. The ongoing redevelopment of the neighborhood includes the Landing 53 development, which has brought 172 apartments to the area.
ON THE MENU Passport is a good spot for when you want lots of little plates with enticing flavors to sample and share. There are also several large plates, too, for those who want their own. Originally, you only found tapas in Spanish restaurants but Americans have made them their own, and Passport, as the name implies, is dipping into a range of cuisines. The small menu has about 20 dishes as well as 10 charcuterie and cheese choices you can order singly, or as a plate.
The gambas al ajillo ($8) is a tasty dish of many medium sautéed shrimp with a sweet wine garlic flavor. We ate them with plantanos ($5), delicious golden brown fried ovals of plantains sliced on the diagonal and served with an avocado dip (they don’t need). I love the street corn ($9). It comes shucked and nicely seasoned in a cast-iron skillet sprinkled with cotija cheese, cilantro, and a couple bright wedges of lime.
The ravioli ($11) are three large mushroom ricotta pasta pockets, served with a mild white butter sauce scattered with mushrooms and a couple of fried sage leaves. The winter salad, priced at only $7, consists of lovely roasted beets with lots of other flavorful bites and textures: toasted hazelnut, candied fennel crumbs, goat cheese, arugula, dried apple. It’s nice with Passport’s hummus ($9), which comes sided with deep-fried pita squares. You don’t go to a tapas place to eat lower-cal, simple roasted, or steamed dishes, but two large plates can get you there. The good seafood ($24) paella is a skillet of mussels, shrimp, clams, octopus, and chorizo in a tomato broth atop a bed of rice. And, the grilled salmon ($22), glazed with honey and soy, is served with a block of jasmine rice, studded with black sesame seeds, and sautéed bok choy. Desserts are made in-house and the churros ($9) are still-warm, light cylinders of fried dough dusted with cinnamon and sugar and sided with real whipped cream (wonderful) and little pots of salted caramel and chocolate sauce. I love them.
Passport Sips & Tapas, 59 Washington St., Weymouth, 781-660-4222, www.passportsipsandtapas.com.
Joan Wilder can be reached at email@example.com.