Small Bite: Waiting on Lines

Prime Italian grill La Brace has everything but the crowds.

Arriving for a midweek supper at La Brace, a new Italian joint on Salem Street, we took our places as the lone diners in a scene out of Big Night: The hostess fiddled with the menus as the waiter checked the tiny oil lamps, while across the street the more established Rabia’s turned table after table. Like the film’s fictional Paradise restaurant, La Brace has an artist in the kitchen (Mark Fredette, formerly of Umbria), a devoted proprietor at the front of the house (co-owner Gail LaRocca)—and no crowds.

The food isn’t the problem: The prosciutto appetizer was intriguingly complex with balsamic, honey, and superrich Gorgonzola; the hulking veal chop was cooked to perfection and accompanied by grilled rabe with irresistible char. La Brace could stand to warm up its décor, flesh out its wine list, and turn down the Euro pop and, perhaps, the prices. But as Big Night’s long-suffering chef declared, “People should come just for the food.”

76 Salem St., Boston, 617-523-8820,