Ciao Bella and North Square Oyster Bar Are Now Open in the North End
A refined white-tablecloth spot and a cool natural wine bar are the newest sibling restaurants of Ward 8 and Tony & Elaine's.
Ciao, bella—it’s cliche, but really the most appropriate thing to say to the pretty new dining destination on an iconic corner of the North End. Ciao Bella opens tonight at the former North Square Oyster, along with a small, next-door sister spot called North Square Oyster Bar. The two restaurants are the latest from All Day Hospitality Group, adding a refined, Italian-American dining option and raw bar with natural wines to a portfolio which already includes some of the North End’s hottest restaurants.
Ciao Bella has been in the works since February, when owner Nick Frattaroli quietly shuttered the two-year-old North Square Oyster. (There’s no relation to the former Ciao Bella on Newbury Street.) The two-floor, three-bar space had an ambitious, seafood-focused menu of composed oysters, hot and cold lobster rolls, and entrees, but “we knew we weren’t maximizing the opportunity provided by being a restaurant in Boston’s Little Italy,” Frattaroli said in a press release. This was made especially clear after his restaurant group debuted the throwback red sauce joint, Tony & Elaine’s, late last year to immediate acclaim. Early reviews show that Boston is hungry for classic Italian-American staples recreated with thought and care; Ciao Bella is the white-tableclothed alternative to T&E’s red-and-white checkers.
Chef Pierce Boalt Juckett, an alum of Uni, Waypoint, and Select Oyster Bar, was formerly chef at North Square Oyster and returns to the helm at Ciao Bella. He’s now the culinary director for the entire restaurant group, which also includes Ward 8 and Bodega Canal. At Ciao Bella, his menu elevates the old-school with house-made pastas and quality seafood and chops—think familiar plates like clams Casino with Wellfleet littlenecks, spaghetti carbonara with salty guanciale, Maine lobster-filled squid ink ravioli, veal Milanese, huge bone-in rib eye with a green tomato jam, and sides like wild mushrooms and chili-flaked broccoli rabe. For dessert, Ciao Bella has rotating flavors of cannoli and gelati, plus requisite tiramisu and cheesecake.
North Square Oyster Bar, now its own, 10-seat destination in place of a former weekends-only “side bar,” brings back NSQ’s popular hot and cold lobster rolls, as well as rotating crudo options and daily oysters on the half-shell. Check out the opening menu below. The wine list for both concepts highlights natural and organic varieties. The bar also features Italian and local craft beers, and updated Italian-style cocktails like a coffee martini and a lemon drop.
Regular All Day Hospitality collaborator Justin Power led the redesign. Ciao Bella lightens up the second-floor dining room with floral wallpaper and wood trim. The first floor’s whitewashed tin ceiling, marble bar top, and honeycomb tile floor remain, complementing new, pale pink, brass-studded chairs and barstools. It’s really quite cute. Large windows on both levels let in natural light and overlook the Freedom Trail. The North End Oyster Bar side keeps things cool with black trim and vintage-looking nautical artwork.
The two new North End spots both open for dinner on Tuesday, June 4, and regular hours for both are Monday-Thursday from 4 p.m. until 1 a.m., and Friday-Sunday from 11:30 until 1 a.m.
5 North Sq., North End, Boston, 617-829-4975, ciaobellanorthend.com,