4 FYI’s from the Boston Food World


  1. Chef Rene Michelena, formerly of La Bettola, Centro, Saint, and Domani, has moved on once again, bringing his talents to the menu at Central 37, the four-story eatery in the former Black Rhino space in the Financial District. The space includes a private dining room, rooftop deck, and adjoining small plate lounge dubbed Market. No word on Michelena’s replacement at Domani.
  2. New to the expanding Jamaica Plain restaurant scene is Vee Vee, a New American bistro located in the space that formerly housed Cha Fahn. Owned by husband-and-wife team Daniel and Kristen Valachovic, most recently of Zons, the executive chef is Brendan Wood (ex-Sasso and Lucca).
  3. Chef Barry Maiden, who lists L’Espalier, Sel de la Terre, and Lumière on his resume, is taking his upscale skills to a more affordable eatery with Hungry Mother, where he’ll serve dishes that tap his Southern roots, like grilled skirt steak served with creamed corn and Georgia shrimp with Anson Mills grits and red-eye gravy. Hungry Mother is set to open sometime in the early spring.
  4. Just down the street from Hungry Mother is new Italian eatery, Benatti. Chef/owner Andrea Benatti has come up north from his most recent gig at Opera in the Florida Keys and is bringing northern Italian dishes along for the ride, including handmade tortellini with pork, veal, and prosciutto in a Parmigiano-Reggiano sauce.

Previous news:

As taken from the James Beard Foundation Dateline:

  1. The Seaport District explosion continues with 606 Congress, slated to open in the new Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel later this winter. JBF Award–winning chef Michael Schlow (Radius, Via Matta, Alta Strada, and Great Bay) is consulting on the American-influenced menu, and Toby Hill of the recently closed Eldredge Room in Chatham will man the stoves. The restaurant will have an exhibition kitchen, a chef’s communal table, and an outdoor seating area.
  2. Small Plates recently opened in Harvard Square, replacing the short-lived Conundrum (which replaced the long-lived Iruña). The new eatery is run by chef Jerome Picca and his wife, Stephanie, an interior designer who remodeled the space. Picca, who was most recently at Jerome’s, northwest of town in the Nashoba Valley Winery, is cooking up a global menu of dishes like Maine crab timbale with cucumber raita and an ever-changing duo of mini burgers.
  3. The Oceanaire Seafood Room opened its first New England location in Boston’s Financial District early in January. The upscale chain offers more than 25 species of seafood, ranging from the exotic to local favorites. Executive chef and operating partner is Dan Enos (ex-Capital Grille in Chestnut Hill and Phoenix, Arizona).
  4. Sasso has a new executive chef. Anthony Mazzotta has worked at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry and Per Se, as well as Toro in the South End. Look for new dishes like Jonah crab with daikon, pineapple, avocado purée, and pine nuts.
  5. There’s yet another fashionable hangout for the glitterati on Newbury Street. Cafeteria, located in the space formerly occupied by INQ Bistro, is an upscale Mediterranean/Italian-American eatery with a menu that includes steak and cheese panini and tagliatelli Bolognese.

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