Since taking over the helm at Local 149 last February, dual chef de cuisines Ben Giglio and Jonathan Warnock have transformed the South Boston space into an incubator for inventive gastropub fare. Giglio says they’re the “yin and yang of the kitchen,” with Warnock honing in on the type of Middle Eastern flavors he perfected while under Ana Sortun at Oleana and Giglio focusing on the stripped-down Italian cuisine he fell in love with at Dante De Magistris’s Il Casile in Belmont.
“Coming from Oleana, Jonathan has an unbelievable knowledge of Lebanese food, Turkish food, and North African food,” Giglio says. “So his use of spices is super interesting and something I haven’t been exposed to. I cut my teeth under Dante at Il Casale when they first opened. I was there for four years then went to Italy and worked at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Alba called Villa di Amelia. That led to a love of simpler things: olive oil, good bread, great cheese, and charcuterie. While I was there I began screwing around with cured meats, pâtés, and rillettes, and I think I’ve really come to a great place with it.”
Since those early months under Giglio and Warnock, Local 149 has increasingly been churning out more and more creative specials, rotating farmer’s plates, and locally sourced menus. That’s been especially true on Tuesday’s “Street Food” menu where Cuban and banh mi sandwiches join everyday bar snacks like corn dogs, oysters, and pork shanks that are fried and slathered in Buffalo sauce.
Starting this week, the two chefs are introducing a new menu that is reflective of their growing comfort in the kitchen, with additions like a pork schnitzel sandwich dressed with beer-braised sauerkraut and a harissa dill aioli, ricotta gnocchi tossed with smoked mozzarella and broccoli rabe, and seared baby eggplant served on a bed of farro with sausage and mushroom creme. Giglio and Warnock are also combining their respective culinary specialties into an ambitious in-house sausage-making program that shows up on dishes like a lambchetta stuffed with North African merguez sausage.
It’s no coincidence, that the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (the same group behind Biltmore Bar & Grille in Newton) is allotting their two brightest chefs this amount of creative freedom. It turns out, the group is putting Giglio and Warnock in charge of conceptualizing their latest project, a two-story restaurant/speakeasy that’ll take over The Boyne Irish Pub space in Brighton.
Located at 458 Western Avenue on the Brighton-Allston border, the yet-unnamed restaurant will have the capacity to seat 175 and will serve Giglio and Warnock’s particular brand of upscale casual food upstairs (think their take on Philly’s famous Italian roast pork sandwich), and Italian small plates and charcuterie downstairs.
“Upstairs is going to be a lot like the Local, because we still want it to be that same kind of interesting, but approachable food,” Giglio says. “However, downstairs is going to be this really cool, small plate speakeasy with fireplaces going, sofas, big comfy armchairs, and space for people to actually sit down and relax. It’s going to be very cocktail-driven menu with lots of whiskey, pasta, charcuterie, and cheese. You’re going to be able to get a little bit of everything in one restaurant.”
Currently, the Neighborhood Restaurant Group is in construction on the former Boyne space and they’re hoping to have their newest restaurant open to the public by the end of April.
149 P St., Boston; 617-269-0900 or local149.com.
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