Novara Opens in Historic Milton Theater [UPDATED]

A long-vacant East Milton Square storefront has a second run as a casual, neighborhood spot with approachable Italian fare.


Novara opens in Milton on January 7. / Photo by Anna Ivanova Photography

UPDATE, Monday, January 4, 9 p.m.: Novara will open to the public at 4 p.m. on Thursday, January 7.


A notable piece of East Milton Square real estate that has sat vacant for years in is getting new life as a northern Italian-inspired neighborhood spot. Novara will open next month in the former State Theater/Milton Cinema.

Novara comes from the team behind Abby Park, including chef Tony DeRienzo, Vance Welch, and Ajay Sadhwani. It has a notable investor, too: New Kids on the Block singer Jordan Knight tweeted about his involvement. The former theater has been completely renovated and redesigned by architect Steve Todisco, who also had the vision behind Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in downtown Boston and Abby Park.

The theater showed its final film in 1987. For some time, Welch used the 5,500-square foot space as storage for his former Java Jo’s Coffeehouse, before a fire destroyed it in 2007. In 2014, it was purchased by local real estate firm Falconi Companies, along with adjacent lots which will be used for restaurant parking.

Todisco’s design retains the theater’s 23-foot ceilings. Novara will seat about 160 guests. A 50-seat island bar is topped with imported carrera marble from Italy. Expect an extensive, Italian-heavy wine list, as well as about 20 draft beers and craft cocktails.

While its days as a second-run movie theater are over, Novara will have a roll-down screen to project select sporting and community events. Come springtime, glass doors around the grandiose bar will open onto a 20-person courtyard. There is also a 20-person private space, with rustic wood beams and lighting, meant to invoke the feeling of a wine tasting room at an Italian vineyard.


Novara co-owner and Abby Park chef Tony DeRienzo. / Photo by Anna Ivanova Photography

DeRienzo, a Brockton native, credits his early culinary upbringing to his mother, Raffaela. He graduated from Johnson and Wales and entered the industry as Tony Ambrose’s sous chef at Ambrosia. He went on to work alongside Lydia Shire at Biba, and has held a handful of executive chef positions. He’ll retain that role at Abby Park in addition to Novara, where he is also part-owner.

Novara’s menu draws on DeRienzo’s heritage with approachable comfort food. The opening menu, printed in full below, opens with antipasti like like gorgonzola tortellini with prosciutto, pistachio pesto, and chianti glaze; eggplant caponata; and Tuscan white bean soup. King crab scampi; hand-rolled potato gnocchi; and golden beet risotto with rock shrimp, mascarpone, pistachios, black truffles, and julienne green apple comprise some of the grains. There are hearty entrées, including bronzini with wood-fired tomatoes, crushed potatoes, candied lemon zest, olive oil, truffle, baby arugula; and veal sirloin; as well as salads and thin-crust, brick oven pizzas.

Novara is slated for a mid-January debut. The team is in the final stages of construction, and is sharing its progress on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Novara Opening Dinner Menu

Novara, opening this winter at 556 Adams St., Milton; 617-696-8400 or

Note: A previous version of this article said Novara opens Tuesday, but a rep clarified that date is for friends and family service.