A drawback to having a successful restaurant is that sometimes, you have more interested guests than you have available tables. That’s been the case at the 40-seat Moody’s Backroom, where chef and owner Joshua Smith has often had to decline reservations because they just simply lacked the space.
But that ends tonight. A 70-seat expansion is ready for primetime, and along with it, the Backroom will roll out an expanded menu with more entrées, flatbreads, and an entire new offering: Crudo.
“We built out the space to accomodate what we felt we were lacking,” Smith says. More seating and raw seafood is where it starts, but the expansion will also enable the Backroom to host private events.
A gigantic, farmhouse-style sliding door will stay open between the Backroom and the new dining room during regular service, like tonight, but it can also be closed. Cocktail-style receptions in the new room can accomodate up to 100 people, and the space has its own bar.
Ten seats surround the new bar, which is also where the crudo comes from. Food safety concerns prevented Moody’s Backroom from handling raw seafood in the past, but they’re alleviated with the added space, Smith says. Expect a selection of oysters on the half shell for $3 apiece—Island Creek and Pearly Whites are among a half-dozen options to start. There are four new composed seafood dishes, including Nantucket Bay scallop with jalapeno and caracara orange; and hamachi tiradito with avocado, ginger, and yuzu tobiko.
The New England Charcuterie master is also doing seafood charcuterie, like smoked bluefish pâté with crème fraîche and pickled onion; and a salmon belly BLT with confit tomato on herb toast.
But with nearly triple the possible number of guests per night, the Backroom is just generally able to serve more food, Smith adds. Fried and rotisserie chicken dishes, meatloaf, different cuts of Wagyu steaks, wood-fired flatbreads, fresh pastas, and more specials will rotate in more frequently. Guests will see a larger menu starting tonight.
The new space, formerly Indian restaurant Santa Banta, has custom metalwork by Mike Ireland, who did the metalwork in the original Backroom. Mystic Millwork of Norwood built the vintage-looking door and other rustic wood elements, and also laid the limestone wall around the new space. The Backroom’s soft brown leather banquettes continue, with a new, 16-seat “big boss” bench which can feel like “bottle service in a Las Vegas club,” Smith says.
“When it’s all open, it’s amazing how it blends together, instead of [feeling like] two distinct spaces,” Smith continues. “We’re in hospitality. It always hurts to hear people frustrated that they can’t get [a reservation]. We’re excited to start putting people in there.”
To inaugurate the new room, the Backroom hosts chef Marcus Ware for a kitchen takeover on Wednesday, Feb. 21. The dinner is sold out, but additional Chef Takeover series dates are on the books during the first week of March with renowned chefs Justin Brunson, and John Tesar; and later in the month with Jonathan Benno, and Aaron Brooks. The Backroom menu will be available, but so will a four-course prix-fixe by the visiting chef and his team. Reservations are available on Eventbrite.
Moody’s Deli, which has a new location in Back Bay as of December, is also opening a New England-style deli in Napa, Calif. And Smith’s local moves continue, too: A Moody’s taqueria is headed for an adjacent, separate storefront in Waltham. Construction continues, and Smith estimates it’s about five weeks out.
But for now, he just can’t wait to welcome more people to the expanded, revamped Backroom. It’s open Tuesday-Sunday at 5 p.m.
468 Moody St., Waltham, 781-216-8732, moodyswaltham.com.
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