Here’s a Look at Mida, Opening This Week in the South End
You’ve probably had arancini before—cheesy, fried balls of rice found at every Italian-inflected spot from Galleria Umberto to Coppa and beyond. But the casual go-to is one of the dishes chef Douglass Williams is most excited to serve at Mida, which opens Wednesday for dinner.
The first-time restaurateur, who learned from the likes of Patrick Connolly at Radius, Jamie Bissonnette at Coppa, and Paul Liebrandt at New York City’s Corton, is nostalgic about the snack.
“Arancini reminds me of kibbeh, a Syrian-Lebanese dish mom used to cook,” he says.
It’s also an Italian staple, the culture from which Williams is taking inspiration at his casual debut. But instead of a rote version, Mida’s rice balls are blended with finely diced calamari, fontina, and bitter greens from Eva’s Garden in Dartmouth. “I thought it could be a little more, with respect to the traditions, but give it a boost in texture, and a variance on flavor.”
The dish is exemplary of what Williams is presenting in the South End, with the help of sous chef Brian Paszko, a recent Boston transplant and alum of San Francisco dining institutions Central Kitchen, Saison, and Fifth Floor. Mida, meaning “he gives me,” will offer familiar, comfortable cuisine, refined by Williams’s and Paszko’s technique, complemented by generous service and a warm, convivial atmosphere.
“I want to give people a feeling of elation. That’s part of what you’re paying for,” he previously told Boston.
The menu—check it out in full below—is broken down typically with small piccoli, like the arancini, and unctuous pork lardo with crusty sourdough, New York honey, pink peppercorn, and house-made onion powder. Eventually, Douglass will introduce house-made beef lardo, too.
Singoli include Wagyu carpaccio, and grilled Cape oysters with a kale mignonette; and there are larger plates to share—or not—like a grilled sirloin cap with an herbaceous Italian chimichurri, and whole-roasted monkfish. The Mida team is also rolling pasta in-house.
“I want to make it approachable. If you want to have your own entrée, it’s perfect,” Williams says. “But the way we portion it allows you to easily share, it keeps the intent of the dish together, so you experience it in the same way.”
Taking over the former Estelle’s and the short-lived Cluckit! space, Mida has 70 seats, including 12 at the bar. Designed by Sousa Architects, the atmosphere is meant to encourage both conviviality and intimacy, Williams says. With light gray walls, brushed ceramic tile, white stone counters, a blue bar in front of backlit metal mesh, and dark woods and leather furniture, it’s chic, but large windows and decorative plants keep it bright and airy.
General manager Seth Gerber (Café ArtScience) is also the beverage director who curated an array of Italian apertifs and digestifs, as well as a 75-deep bottle list with mainly Loire Valley and Italian wines. There are a handful of sparklers, reds, and whites by the glass, six Italian and New England beers on draft and more in bottles, plus cocktails. The list has Italian classics, like a negroni interpretation, as well as the Cinque Terre (Evan Williams White Label Bourbon, pistachio orgeat, amaro montenegro, lemon juice), Royal Palm daiquiri (Plantation pineapple rum, Clement Select Barrel, toasted coconut syrup, lime juice), and mocktails.
Lunch isn’t in the business plan at this point (though Williams will listen to the neighborhood about that), but Sunday brunch is. And night owls, take note.
“This is a safe, vibrant neighborhood,” Williams says. The bar will stay open until 1 a.m. Monday-Wednesday, and 2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday. Beginning Wednesday, Nov. 30, Mida is open nightly for dinner from 5-11 p.m. (10:30 on Sundays).
782 Tremont St., Boston, 617-936-3490, midaboston.com.