Chef Brendan Pelley Lands at Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar
Three months after wrapping up his award-winning Pelekasis pop-up at Wink & Nod, Brendan Pelley is back for good: The chef has officially joined Michael’s Schlow’s Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar as chef de cuisine. Pelley has been on board with the Park Plaza restaurant since early November, trying out dishes as specials and getting acquainted with Doretta’s staff. His fall menu is available now.
The partnership is exciting for both the up-and-comer and the acclaimed chef/owner of Alta Strada, Tico, and the late, great Radius. Pelley “truly understands Greek heritage, Greek cuisine, the people, and the culture,” Schlow says. “He’s giving his personal approach to this beautiful food he grew up with. He brings a wonderful personality to the table. That is the real value of having him there.”
Before joining the Doretta team, the Hell’s Kitchen and Zebra’s Bistro and Wine Bar alum was looking at spaces and entertaining offers to rekindle Pelekasis. “But nothing was feeling quite right to me until meeting with Michael,” Pelley says. “We found that we were very much on the same page. The marriage of the traditional and nontraditional paired with careful sourcing, great technique and polished service is a shared vision.”
The critical reception of Doretta wasn’t stellar when it debuted last year, and Schlow says he has heard the feedback and is constantly evolving the restaurant. That will continue with Pelley in the driver’s seat—for one, seeing the success of Pelekasis, as well as that of Kava Neo-Taverna in the South End, has emboldened Schlow to use Greek words on Doretta’s menu.
“A chef’s job is to cook for his guests,” Schlow says. “They’ll tell you what works and what doesn’t, because they don’t order it. The classics—village salad, Greek octopus, zucchini chips, branzino, and the lamb dish—are by far the most popular dishes, and Brendan brings a whole new realm of possibilities.”
Fans of Pelley’s Wink & Nod menu will recognize some ideas, including mountain tea-smoked lamb tartare; roasted beet horiataki with whipped feta; molten kefalograviera, with pickled cranberry, Szechuan peppercorn, and Metaxa for fall; and braised lamb neck orzo with dehydrated Kalamata olive breadcrumbs. Pelley is introducing some new flavors on Doretta’s raw bar program, too, like his vibrant Nantucket bay scallops with beet yogurt.
“It’s a world of difference from a small pop-up and I’ll really be able to explore and expand upon what I started,” Pelley says.
That includes making Doretta’s lunch menu more approachable, Schlow says, with more salads, sandwiches, and playful additions, like Greek potato chips on a maitake mushroom gyro.
Schlow, who has admired Pelley’s cooking and career since his Clio days, is looking forward to collaborating with the chef on things like a Sunday supper series, and other forthcoming projects, he says. While he splits his time between his Boston restaurants and concepts in Washington, D.C., Schlow is pleased to have Pelley represent Doretta when he can’t be in the kitchen.
“He’s on [Greek cuisine] and committed to it. That’s the real value added for guests and staff.”
79 Park Plaza, Boston, 617-422-0008, dorettaboston.com.