Giulia Chef Michael Pagliarini Will Open Benedetto in the Former Rialto Space
Jody Adams’s Rialto may be gone, but the Charles Hotel will soon have a new pedigreed spot for Italian cuisine: Michael Pagliarini, chef and owner at the venerable trattoria Giulia, is opening Benedetto in that space.
The Boston Globe reports Pagliarini has signed a long-term lease with the Charles Hotel, and plans to open later this year, following a complete renovation.
Benedetto, which translates to “blessed,” is “a sister restaurant in every way,” says Pagliarini. A big sister: Benedetto has 220 seats, compared with Giulia’s 70. Like Giulia, the new restaurant is inspired by the “rural sophistication” of Umbria, the central Italian region Pagliarini’s family has its roots, though it will offer a broad depiction of regional Italian cooking.
“We’re going to dig deep into traditions, and be good interpreters of those traditions,” Pagliarini says. “We’ll have the best Italian speciality ingredients, but most importantly, the best of our local purveyors, and try to have a seamless marriage of the two. And yes, there will be a lot of pasta.”
The menu is still in development. “There will be as much focus on prime meats and seafood as there is on vegetables and legumes and our hand-rolled pasta, all the way to our homemade gelati, biscotti, and torta. It’s our next journey to Italy, to all the diverse regions.”
It will be anchored with the pasta, though. During the day, pasta-making will be on full display with chefs working at a custom-designed, rustic oak-hewn table, the centerpiece of the dining room. At night, the working table will serve as the chef’s table, offering guests “a powerful connection to our craft and food,” Pagliarini says.
Giulia’s opening sous chef Brian Gianpoalo was recently promoted to chef de cuisine at the Massachusetts Avenue restaurant. Pagliarini is in talks with local talent, but has no announcements about Benedetto staff at this time.
The pasta table will be flanked by floor-to-ceiling wine storage, housing a huge collection of Italian labels, including many small-scale producers. Benedetto’s wine program will build on general manager Trevor Martinez’s efforts at Giulia, Pagliarini says, though the opening wine director and GM will remain at Giulia.
“The opportunity now with Benedetto is to grow [the wine program] more vertically. We’ll have a reserve list. We’re going to have great glass pours and affordable bottles, no doubt about it, but we now have the space, and part of our design is specifically to showcase the list,” he says. “You’ll be able to come up and interact with our wine steward, and taste. We’ll be able to feature producers.”
The dining room at Benedetto will be more upscale and refined than Giulia’s, but the bar, lounge, and outdoor patio will be casual. “It’s really going to have a dynamic environment and we’re going to try to capture the great neighborhood vibe with high energy,” Pagliarini says.
Charles Hotel president Richard Friedman and general manager Alex Attia approached Pagliarini about the opportunity earlier this year, he says. The chef was considering a second project. “We want to have more room to promote [people], build a team and a restaurant group,” he says. He took his time getting to know the Charles Hotel team, and he believes it will be a great fit.
“It’s an irresistible opportunity in a very special place in a neighborhood we know and love, because of where we are. It seemed a natural way to grow and evolve for us.”
Architecture firm Bentel & Bentel (B&G Oysters, Island Creek Oyster Bar, W Hotel Boston, New York gems like Gramercy Tavern, Le Bernadin, and more) is leading the design, and construction will start “imminently,” Pagliarini says. Benedetto is slated for a fall 2016 opening.
Benedetto, opening fall 2016 at the Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, charleshotel.com.