What’s heating up the city’s food scene.
Shored Up: Nantucket’s newest gem, Ventuno, opens this month in the former 21 Federal space. Straight Wharf chef-owners Gabriel Frasca and Amanda Lydon tell us they’re “not trying to re-create Sicily on Nantucket,” but are instead striving for a Nantucket restaurant filtered through an Italian lens. They’ll be cooking seasonal, local produce and—available for the first time—island-raised heritage pork and lamb. On the seafood side, look for dishes such as salt-roasted bass with artichoke salad (pictured at right).
’Burb Envy: Long-suffering Concordians get a taste of city dining with newly opened 80 Thoreau, at the Concord train depot. Customers can catch glimpses of the bustling glassed-in kitchen while savoring the creations of chef de cuisine Carolyn Johnson, formerly of Rialto. Expect New England ingredients and traditions executed with French technique (gougères made with Vermont cheddar, and the like).
Turn Up The Heat: Add one more Latin restaurant to the lineup: El Centro debuts this month in the South End. But unlike other nearby newbies, this taco spot has true Mexican roots; contractor-cum-restaurateur Allan Rodriguez hails from Sonora and wants to showcase what he calls “the side of Mexico that no one else here is showing you.” Think: flautas, chiles rellenos, and tacos with cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork).
Now Docking: Aragosta Bar and Bistro arrived late last month at Fairmont Battery Wharf, bringing Italian-Mediterranean cuisine from chef David Daniels (Toppers, the Federalist). Daniels, a first-generation Italian-American, has switched his focus from fine dining to what he calls his fallback foods — “an amazing polenta, really simple sauces, a killer ravioli” — all within a moderate price range.