First Look: Premiere on Broadway, Your Favorite New Restaurant and Music Lounge Opening in August
Former Terra chef Dan Bazzinotti is remixing Italian cuisine in a massive space with a dance floor, stage, and nightly entertainment.
When it opens in Somerville in early August, Premiere on Broadway will be perfectly positioned for the “Roaring ’20s” revival that plenty of folks are expecting to see in post-pandemic-times ahead. After all, it’s a 285-seat restaurant anchored by a huge four-sided bar, and the size of the crowd doubles when you factor in the 100-seat patio and big dance floor, which sprawls before a 600-square-foot stage. From there, live bands, comedians, and other performers will entertain during nightly dinners as well as special events.
At a lot of restaurant-slash-venues like this, though, the food is phoned in. (Too many people are willing to put up with soggy mozzarella sticks to see a show.) Not so at Premiere on Broadway. Instead, the sparkling space—seen in all its glory below—has booked a marquee-name chef to bring serious culinary chops to the kitchen.
That chef is Dan Bazzinotti, who spent the last five years helming the open-flame grill at Terra, a terrific top-floor restaurant inside the Back Bay’s Italian food emporium Eataly. Now Bazzinotti will treat his open kitchen at Premiere as its own kind of stage, a platform for plying his craft on playful Italian-American cookery with notes (get it?) of outside inspiration he’s culled throughout his career. At Eataly, he played exceedingly well to expectations—at Premiere, though, he’s really ready to riff and rock and roll.
“I think food and music go hand in hand,” says Bazzinotti, who even wrote handbooks for his kitchen team that likened their work to running a Broadway show. For his part, though, the chef credits his early days cooking in jazz-infused New Orleans for inspiring the kind of fun, freewheeling vibe he wants to foster at Premiere, as well as his outlook that every plate is a kind of unique composition to offer food-loving fans.
At a concert, “You let every instrument shine,” Bazzinotti says. “The drummer does a solo, then the guy with the saxophone goes up, then the trombone. It’s like ingredients on a menu.”
Bazzinotti listened to a lot of music for inspiration while writing Premiere’s debut menu (shared at the bottom of this post). In particular, he says, he spun a ton of tunes from—naturally!—DJ Premier, the pioneering hip hop producer known for his deft use of samples from other songs. Besides the homophonic names, that soundtrack choice makes a lot of sense when you consider all the ways that Bazzinotti plans to mash up varied influences on his Premiere menu.
For instance, the antipasti platter—loaded with house made charcuterie, local cheeses, and other tasty accouterments like stuffed cherry peppers—recalls the boards that Bazzinotti was famous for as opening chef at the Cambridge restaurant Bisq. Although the rigatoni sauce is inspired by his grandmother’s recipe, Bazzinotti says some other hand made pastas, such as the linguini and clams, nod to memories working with Lydia Shire, legendary doyenne of Boston dining, at Scampo inside the Liberty Hotel. The otherwise Italian carbonara, meanwhile, uses Irish bacon in honor of Premiere’s Winter Hill neighborhood.
That’s not the only way he’s twisting traditions just a bit. Genovese pesto is used to smother chicken wings with basil, mint, and lemon. His hand-cut Tuscan fries rub French frites with fennel pollen, oregano, rosemary, and other herbs common in Italian cooking. And while street corn isn’t actually a staple of southern Italian cities, Bazzinotti nonetheless took the idea of a Mexican-style elote and covered it in spicy Calabrian chilis and smoked ricotta. Other lunch and dinner standouts with roots in the Boot include saltimbocca, buttery potato gnocchi with the option to add grilled Peruvian beef hearts (a signature from Bazzinotti’s time at Terra), and rotating flavors of mini calzones.
There’s also a robust brunch lineup, including Italian sweet bread used for a panettone French toast, stacks of ricotta-semolina pancakes, sides like fried mortadella, and a few sweets, such as doughnuts that can be spiked with boozy fillings like limoncello. When it comes to the actual drink lineup, meanwhile, expect bar star Martin Fernandez—formerly of the South End’s live music-filled Beehive—to curate creative cocktail, wine and beer lists that offer something for everyone: There’ll be craft pours from Winter Hill Brewing Company as well as Bud Light in the can, Bazzinotti says, plus straightforward Chardonnays sidled up to funkier, interesting grapes for those that know how to spot ’em.
All this in a room covered in original paintings of iconic performers—including Bono, Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston, Mick Jagger, and Jimi Hendrix—from Charlie Zammuto, the local developer (and talented artist) whose family owns the place. Within just a few weeks, the space will be filled with sounds of clanging forks, clinking glasses, soulful singers, and wailing guitars. Bazzinotti, for one, can’t wait for it to roar to life.
“Normally you go to dinner first, then go to your show. I hate that,” Bazzinotti says. “I want to go to a place where I can hang out for it all. I’d rather watch some music or comedy and eat great food—and that’s what I’m here for.”
517 Broadway, Somerville, 617-996-6838, premiereonbroadway.com.