Great Escape

As the cold weather settles for the next few months, Bostonians tend to have one thing on their mind: getting away. Sure, everyone wishes they could dash off to Rome or Sicily for a week, but on Dec. 18, Italy comes to Back Bay with the opening of Sasso, the latest addition in the continuing transformation of Huntington Ave. from empty swath to intriguing destination for foodies. From the creators of the North End’s Lucca, Sasso’s edgier, upscale menu has already got the city buzzing.

“The menu’s going to be a little more modern, a little more experimental,” says Sasso spokesperson Wes Eberle. “Moving out of the North End, we can push the envelope a little more.” And push the envelope they will, with their unique concept of a menu based on an “annual tour of Italy.”

“For me, Sasso represents the best of modern regional Italian,” says executive chef David Ross, also of Lucca. “For example, winter may take us to Piedmont and Lombardy, spring may take us to Umbria and Abruzzo, summer menus could draw on the inspiration of Sicily and Calabria, and fall could find me heading North again to Sardinia and Lazio.”

The opening menu will feature appetizers like wild boar sopressatta and duck prosciutto, while entrees range from slowly braised wild boar over ricotta pyramids with a sweet and sour tomato ragu to lobster ‘mac and cheese.’ Then top off the meal with a main course like Ross’s rollatini of sole with root vegetable puree and baccala, seared escarole and lemon parsley pesto. All made with ingredients from, “local producers who bring their character and love for food to everything they do,” allowing Ross to fuse seasonal Italian cuisine with regional produce.

In designing Sasso’s menu, Ross spent his summer traveling Europe, seeking inspiration from the cuisines of France, Spain, and of course, Italy. The European influence shows most in Sasso’s wine menu. While Lucca boasts one of the largest wine cellars in the city, featuring selections from Italy and America, Sasso will expand its list to include “creative international selections” from outside Italy and the United States, Eberle says.

Once the fine dining hours have passed (food is served until 1:30 a.m.), check out Sasso’s lounge and bar, where the menu features a Mediterranean-meets-Italian selection. Or explore the two-floor space: the open mezzanine seating area overlooks the main dining room and descends into the room via a centerpiece grand Italian staircase.