It’s been just about a year since Gabriel Bremer and Analia Verolo started looking for a new home for their Cambridge restaurant, the gone-before-its-time Salts. Now, they’re in the final stages of securing space in Watertown for a new concept, La Bodega by Salts.
La Bodega will retain the homey atmosphere and the personal connection to its husband-and-wife co-owners, but it’s not Salts 2.0. “Personally, the two of us are sort of in a different place,” says Bremer, who had just put his 4-month-old son down for a nap when he spoke with Boston. “We want something that’s going to represent where we’re at right now and what we’re excited about.”
The new concept is inspired by Verolo’s Uruguayan heritage, and it’s named for two definitions of the word.
“In Spanish and in Uruguay, it’s a winery, essentially,” Bremer explains. “We will have a heavy emphasis on wine, and wine culture. Also, there’s the urban definition of ‘bodega,’ like in New York: The corner store that everybody gathers at. Where you go to have a coffee, have a drink, and see your friends. It’s something for the community.”
Bremer and Verolo are keeping “by Salts” in the formal name so that guests know the team is back—they never intended to shutter Salts in the first place. In January 2014, the couple was on the brink of celebrating 10 years at Salts, when a hot water pipe burst in the MIT-owned building and destroyed the interior, Bremer says. It was another year of waiting on their landlord to help them rebuild, only to learn the school no longer wanted to house their restaurant, he says.
“We were all excited and ready to celebrate, and the next thing you know it’s all gone,” Bremer says. “But if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have a beautiful 4-month old, and this [new concept] is putting us on the track for something bigger and better.”
Bremer declined to share more details about the space until it’s official, but he said it will be larger than Salts was, and will have a unique atmosphere with two, distinct feels to it. Overall, the concept is food, wine, and family-focused, he says.
The wine list will feature small, artisan producers, and will break down much like Uruguayan culture does, with a lot of Spanish influence, some French, and some American, Bremer says. He’s also planning to bring on many Uruguayan wineries.
The menu is still a work in progress, though consider next week’s event at Tavern Road a sneak preview. Bremer is kicking off Tavern Road’s new iteration of its Chef’s Studio series.
When it debuted in 2014, the dinners made use of Tavern Road’s small, neighboring space, then home to its lunchtime TR Street Food concept. Chef and co-owner Louis DiBiccari is relaunching the series now as an excuse to get together with old friends—and eat their food.
“There are so many guys out there who aren’t cooking [right now], whose food we miss,” DiBiccari says. Besides Bremer, Colin Lynch is signed on for the Chef’s Studio in April. Lynch, former executive chef of the Barbara Lynch Gruppo, is opening Bar Mezzana, a coastal Italian restaurant, with fellow Gruppo alumni this spring.
“We can create an atmosphere where [chefs] can reintroduce their cuisine, or introduce new cuisine going forward, or whatever they’re into now. Let’s have a night where we have some fun,” DiBicarri says.
For La Bodega, Bremer is preparing a menu that may look somewhat familiar to Salts fans—yes, the whole-roasted duck will return—but with more “rustic nuance.” For the Chef’s Studio, he’s making a salt-roasted beet salad, with citrus, pistachio, nasturtium, and sheep’s milk cheese; and grilled beef short rib with roasted spring onion a la plancha, and salsa criolla, a condiment used like chimichurri. DiBiccari is supplying cod cheek escabeche, and the picada plate—a selection of charcuterie, olives, and cheese traditionally shared in Uruguay and Argentina; La Bodega will also have cured meats.
Sound intriguing? Stay tuned, because La Bodega is just getting off the ground. Bremer says as things solidify, he’ll update social media accordingly.
Chef’s Studio with Gabriel Bremer, $65 per person, Monday, February 29, 7 p.m., Tavern Road, 343 Congress St., Boston; Eventbrite.
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