Greg Reeves Talks Viale, Now Open in Central Square [Updated]
Green Street alums Greg Reeves and Mark Young might have officially taken over Steve Johnson’s Rendezvous space in February, but if you ask Reeves about their upcoming Mediterranean bistro, Viale, he’ll tell you the restaurant has been in the works since the two became childhood friends in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
“It sounds kind of corny, but we’ve been friends since we were five-years-old and we’ve always talked about doing something like this,” Reeves says. “For the longest time, it didn’t make sense because we were both chefs and you can’t have two chefs running a kitchen. That’s not a recipe for success. But when we worked together at Green Street, with Mark as the front-of-house manager, we saw that we worked well together.”
Outside of their mutual time at Green Street, both partners have accomplished resumes, with Young serving stints at Lineage, The Regal Beagle, and most recently, as general manager of Spoke Wine Bar. Reeves has stayed in the kitchen for the breadth of his career, including chef stops at The Butcher Shop, B&G Oysters, Pier 6 and, until last week, La Brasa in Somerville.
Now the two longtime friends are close to unveiling their own vision, which they’re projecting to open on Columbus Day weekend in October. Although Young and Reeves were close to purchasing the former Chez Henri space in November—a property that eventually went to UpStairs on the Square’s Susan Regis and Hi-Rise Bread Company’s Rene Becker—they say they were ecstatic to land their current Central Square real estate.
“In our eyes, it’s the ideal location,” Reeves says. “There have been so many great restaurants opening in the area and it’s something we really wanted to be a part of. Craigie [on Main] opened a couple of years ago, now Brick & Mortar is there, and Thelonious Monkfish is just two doors down from us. Central Square is really taking off. Yes, it’s Cambridge, but Central square is a little grittier. Between all that and the reputation Steve [Johnson] had built up for the address, it just seemed to be a natural fit.”
Joining the two in their “French and Italian-themed” concept will be bar manager Patrick Gaggiano, who recently left Brookline’s Fairsted Kitchen. Reeves says Gaggiano was an easy choice for Viale because of his cocktail knowledge and his reputation for warm hospitality. “Whether you want an egg in your drink or you just want to chill with a Bud Light, per se, he’s going to make you feel very comfortable,” Reeves says. “He has all the geeky beer and cocktail knowledge, but he also wants to establish a fun, no-pressure environment.”
As for the food, Reeves’ recent training at La Brasa should serve him well. Like Daniel Bojorquez’s wood-grilled focus, Viale will prepare most dishes out of an oak-fired oven, including pizzas, whole fish, steaks, and seasonal produce. “We don’t want to use the catchphrase ‘farm-to-table,’ but we are going to very ingredient focused,” Reeves says. “The meats and vegetables are mostly going to be cooked over oak. Not everything has to be muted in butter or cooked in grease—it’s fun to get some color on things, get some char. As I’ve learned from Dan [Bojorquez], there’s a way to burn things correctly.”
In addition to pizzas and roasted meats, Viale will offer a selection of house-made pastas (available in half and full orders), oysters, and crudos. Inside, Reeves and Young are giving the space a “facelift.” The dining room will be able to accommodate up to 70 guests and the bar will have seating for 16. Check out the full menu below.
502 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617-576-1900 or vialecambridge.com.