Earlier this month it was reported on the Boston Restaurant Talk blog that SOWA Hospitality Group (a division of GTI, Inc.) would be opening a new French restaurant in the space formerly known as Gaslight.
The new restaurant called, Brasserie, will likely open the second weekend of May. Today, signage is being added to the 560 Harrison Avenue building and the parking lot is being freshly paved. Friends & Family events are scheduled for next week to get the staff and kitchen ready for a full opening and daily meetings are taking place with staff as the team readies to open.
I’m optimistic Brasserie will be successful because veteran restauranteur, Jeff Gates, has been overseeing the opening. SOWA Hospitality Group made the decision to make no discernable modifications to the space so Brasserie looks like a Gaslight reboot rather than a new restaurant, but perhaps that was the intention all along. Regardless, it will be good to see the lights come back on and the patio once again full of people.
The restaurant industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. By September 2020, WBZ-TV reported that 20% of all restaurants in Massachusetts had closed for good. Spring 2021 has reversed those trends as many restaurants come out of hibernation and news of new restaurant openings replaces the more depressing news of closures that we became accustomed to last year.
With an increased optimism comes new investment to bring life back to spaces that pre-pandemic were popular and profitable. Seizing this opportunity, GTI Properties has hired Jeff Gates to oversee the food and beverage operations at the SOWA Power Station, which is being converted into a special events space and to open and manage three new restaurants in SOWA – one of which will open next month.
Brasserie, located at 560 Harrison Avenue (formerly Gaslight) will open in May, according to a Boston Restaurant Talk blog post. If that timing is correct, a quick walk by suggests that not much will likely change in decor or design but Gaslight was a juggernaut so the key to Brasserie’s success will be staffing and management.
Roma 500 at 500 Harrison Avenue (formerly Cinquecento) will likely open later this year. Unlike Brasserie, significant renovations and remodeling are required. Roma 500 will have an enlarged outdoor dining patio and bar. No other South End restaurant has an outdoor bar, making this a unique (and welcome) addition to the neighborhood.
Finally, Pho on Thayer, at 460 Harrison (building B) will open in new space that was briefly used by Mohr & McPherson but is now vacant. Late last year Jeff Gates petitioned the city on behalf of GTI to transfer the Hungry I liquor license to Pho on Thayer so the restaurant will have a full bar.
Stay tuned for more details as they come available, I’ll be sure to share that information here.
Dine Out Boston (March 14 – 28) starts next week. Here is a full list of participating restaurants for this year’s, Dine Out Boston. If you’ve never participated or you need a refresher, participating restaurtants offer a three course prix-fixe menu for lunch ($15 | $20 | $25) and dinner ($28 | $33 | $38). Call ahead to inquire about the menu and to make your reservation. For more information visit the Dine Out Boston website.
Outdoor dining on public sidewalks and parking spaces will return to Boston by April 1, 2021 (weather permitting). The program which was expanded last year to help restaurants and the public dine outdoors, was well received and wildly popular. Eater Boston has an excellent article with more details around the program and why it is returning to the sidewalks and streets of Boston in a few weeks, which you can read here.
Look for a large, new parklet to be built by Boston Chops South End on Union Park Street to expand their outdoor dining capacity. The exact number of seats to be added is yet to be confirmed but will be significant and a welcome addition to the neighborhood for patrons who want to support local restaurants but prefer dining alfresco.
A new pizzeria is about to open in the SoWa district of the South End neighborhood. The popular (and ever expanding) Portland Maine-based pizzeria, OTTO Pizza, will be opening at the 345 Harrison Avenue apartment complex (located across from the Ink Block in the South End).
No opening date has been shared, but I’m looking forward to the addition to the neighborhood. Pizzerias provide a more affordable dining and take out alternative in the South End, and this neighborhood needs more “fast, casual dining options”. As a result, I think OTTO Pizza will find a great deal of success filling this underserved and under-represented dining niche once it opens.
Nu Burger has opened within the Anoush’Ella restaurant space on West Newton Street in the South End as a “virtual pop-up”. Nina and Raffi Festekjian, who own Anoush’Ella and Nu Burger, are serving burgers for lunch and dinner seven days a week, while also continuing to serve Anoush’Ella’s menu.
Sergio and I wanted to show our support by trying out the new burger pop-up so we ordered from them this past Tuesday night. The Nu Burger menu has six different burgers (one a vegetarian option) each $12.50.
Shown above are the Fenway NuBurger served with pickles, cheddar, tomato, onion, lettuce and sauce with a side of French fries and the Umami Truffle NuBurger served with pickles, pecorino, truffles, fried egg, tomato, shallot, arugula and aoli with a side of French fries. Customers can order via this link for curbside pick up, or via popular food sharing apps for home delivery.
The burgers are large and very filling. The baked French fries are good but I still prefer more traditional “fried” fries. I’m observing dry January so I had a glass of water with my dinner, but I can’t help but feel like these would go great with a cold beer, which Anoush’Ella serves. I didn’t see this option for take out orders but assume you can add beer to your order. Overall, we really enjoyed the bugers and will order from them again. I can’t think of a legitimate burger joint in the South End which makes this a very welcome addition to the neighborhood so let me know what you think when you order from NuBurger.
Nu Burger’s permanent home is located in Fenway at the TimeOut food market, but that is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. For the time being, there is a new burger option in the South End.
Earlier this week photos of the Portuguese Bakery in Provincetown were making the rounds showing for sale signs in its windows. This set off a series of emails and comments on Facebook and conflicting stories about what was happening (so typical for Ptown). Some people were saying the owners are retiring and looking for someone to take over the business others said the Janoplis Family had no intention of selling and to quote the text from Mylan Janopolis that was shared with me, “The Provincetown Portuguese Bakery will live on…”
However, listings like the one below are what set off the chatter and made me wonder what exactly was going on. I suppose it gives townies something to discuss and gossip over during the quiet winter months.
But in response to all the chatter, the owners of the bakery took to Facebook this morning to post the following on their page, assuring customers that they are going nowhere.
The Portuguese Bakery first opened at its current location around 1900 (nobody can confirm the exact date). It remains one of the most affordable and least pretentious dining options in town and is a reminder of Provincetown’s more humble roots as a traditional Portuguese fishing village.
As Provincetown became a destination mostly for affluent gays and lesbians, small businesses have struggled to make ends meet. The Portuguese Bakery seems to have weathered all these challenges without ever losing their identity despite different families and owners over the years coming to run this successful business. If you’ve never visited Provincetown, I recommend ordering a Pasteis de Nata and coffee to go from the bakery. It’s a wonderful treat to enjoy while walking down Commercial Street or sitting on the beach in the morning.
One of the few good things that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic was the city of Boston’s outdoor dining pilot program that was intended to help restaurants faced with strict indoor dining restrictions. The move was enthusiastically supported by restaurant owners, their staff and patrons so yesterday the city of Boston announced that it would resume its outdoor-dining pilot, allowing restaurants to use street parking and sidewalk space outside their doors for tables effective April 1, 2021 (or possibly earlier depending on the weather). Below are some key dates for Boston restaurants to note.
January 18, 2021: The initial deadline for licensees to submit an application to receive a decision or follow-up questions from the city of Boston Licensing Board is due by February 19, 2020. Licensees may also submit an application after this date to participate and those applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.
February 19, 2021: The city of Boston Licensing Board will notify licensees of approvals or requests for more information if they submitted their application by January 18.
April 1, 2021: The 2021 Outdoor Dining Pilot will start on April 1, 2021, weather permitting. This may start earlier if the weather permits. More updates will be shared in the future.
According to the mayor’s office approximately 550 Boston restaurants extended their dining space outdoors (415 of them on public land). Click here for more information about 2021 Outdoor Dining Pilot Program.
Sunday, November 22 Gaslight Boston, the French(ish) restaurant from the Aquitaine Group, will close for good. The restaurant was perhaps best known for their ability to host large parties at their communal tables and their patio dining. I will miss their beat salad which is second to none and the friendly staff.
While the current economy had to be a factor in the decision to close, the reason cited was that their lease was ending. I feel confident that this space will not remain vacant for long. The proximity to the highway, ample parking and the patio space will make this an appealing property for someone once this pandemic is under control but until then it will certainly be sad to see this space go dark. I wish the staff well and much luck.
You can read Seth Woods note announcing the closure on the Gaslight website, here.
Ducali Cafe opened next door to the restaurant by the same name in the North End last month. When I learned that they would be serving Nutella croissants I knew that I would have to trek across town to try these tempting treats.
The Nutella croissants are $4.00 and sold with a dusting of powdered sugar on them. I brought mine home and put it in the oven at 200 degrees for a few minutes while I brewed coffee to dip my croissant in it. How else is one expected to eat these treats?
When I took the warmed the croissant out of the oven, I could smell the buttery treat and hint of Nutella. The pastry was flaky and light and well worth the calories just in case you were wondering. If you enjoy such treats head over to the North End and tell them BosGuy sent you.
Approximately 20% of restaurants in Massachusetts have closed permanently and The Pioneer Institute predicts that the state’s restaurant industry will lose an estimated $2.13 billion this year. In response, the dining app, Seated, is rolling out a program modeled after a successful initiative in the UK that will offer a 50% rebate on any restaurant bill Monday through Wednesday in November that can be applied to the Seated Store which includes brands like Uber, Starbucks, Adidas, Target and many more. This offer is good for only dining-in and if your reservation is made via the Seated app.
The initiative called, Eat Out to Help Out MA, is free but to participate you must download the Seated app in the App Store or Google Play Store, identify the participating restaurant, make a reservation or signal you are a walk-in, and submit a photo of your receipt within the app to claim the rebate after your meal. More than 100 restaurants in Boston and Cambridge have indicated they will be participating in this program.
For those of you who are trying to be budget conscious this is an opportunity to show your support and be able to provide a slightly more generous tip to the staff at your favorite participating restaurant.
Bucking a trend of recent restaurant closures, I’m glad to write that this past Thursday Chef Michael Serpa opened his new seafood restaurant, Atlántico, in the South End at 600 Harrison in space formerly occupied by Southern Proper.
The seafood restaurant has a really interesting menu that is mostly comprised of Spanish & Portuguese tapas that is broken down into several sections including an oyster bar (what else would you expect from the chef behind Back Bay’s Select Oyster Bar), a larger selection of cold and hot and grilled tapas, and for those who are very hungry a large paella. Prices range widely, but the dinner and drink menu is currently available online, here.
The restaurant is open for dinner 7 days a week and according to the website weekend brunch on Sunday from 11am to 2pm. Café service will be available Monday to Friday from 7am to 2pm.
I’ve yet to check out the restaurant but do plan to see if the cafe is open this week to try some of their pastries, breakfast sandwiches and coffee.
Atlántico 600 Harrison Avenue 857-233-2898 || firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours of Operation Weekday café service 7AM – 2PM Dinner daily starting at 5PM Sunday brunch 11AM-3PM
The popular South End restaurant, that closed in May could be reborn (sort of). Boston.com reported yesterday that the owner of Stella Restaurant on Washington Street (shown above), Evan Deluty, will be setting up a truck called Stella Express in Southie at the corner of West Broadway and B Street – near the Broadway T station.
Apparently the new food truck will offer favorites from the old Stella menu and if all goes as planned, Stella Express will debut on August 18. But what I want to know is where will be the bar?
At the height of the coronavirus epidemic in Massachusetts The Acquitaine Group Italian restaurant, Cinquecento, which was closed due to a statewide shutdown to flatten the curve with COVID-19 infections was flooded with approximately five feet of water from a water main break on Harrison Avenue.
Since the mid-April flood there has been a lot of activity to make the building (and surrounding buildings) habitable again but earlier this week the successful Italian restaurant with the beautiful patio announced that they will not reopen. Below is a photo of me at their Rosso Container Bar on their beautiful patio.
Stella Boston in the South End announced on its social media pages this past Friday that the restaurant would close later that night. Stella has been a fixture in the South End for 15 years.
However much I’ll miss their menu, it was the bar scene that always brought me back. The bartenders who worked there made that place fun. Some of my favorite memories include squeezing past all the out-of-town diners crushed into the tiny front bar and crowding the entrance, waiting for their table. Sergio and I would make a beeline to the much less crowded back bar where April was holding court. I also loved my Sunday afternoons with Matt pouring drinks – making Sunday truly a fun day. Adam, Alejandro, Jen, Lucia — the list of fun, engaging bartenders is long and over the years Stella attracted equally colorful regulars who added an even more interesting dynamic. Stella will be missed.
I want to wish everyone who worked at Stella (now and in the past) a big thank you for so many happy memories and tasty cocktails.
This past Saturday the city of Boston created an online directory called “Support Boston Restaurants” to let patrons know which restaurants remain open, their hours of operation, menus, how to order as well as delivery and pick up instructions. The directory has more than 200 restaurants and is organized by neighborhood and also includes some Cambridge restaurants.