Monteverdi, Seth Greenberg’s New “Elevated Italian” Restaurant, Opens in Cambridge

Located alongside the Charles River, the newest venture from the Boston restauranteur behind Mistral and Serafina resurrects an iconic local dish.

Oysters at Monteverdi, the new Italian restaurant in the Royal Sonesta Boston hotel. / Courtesy

Monteverdi, the just-opened Italian restaurant from Seth Greenberg, feels like a family story. In explaining the inspirations for his newest venture, which is located inside the Royal Sonesta Boston hotel, the Boston restauranteur behind Mistral, Mooo Seaport, and Serafina talks about how his father used to work in Italy, at a family factory in the town of Conegliano, a few months out of the year; when Greenberg’s mom traveled with her husband, “he would go to the factory for work, she would go to the Italian language school,” Greenberg remembers. “Her name was Mrs. Greenberg, but they referred to her as ‘Senora Monteverdi.’” The restaurant’s name pays homage to this translation of his mother’s name, plus Italian culture was always a part of his family environment, thanks to his father, who filled their home with Italian food and art. Chef Christian Ellis feels the familial comfort in the new restaurant’s menu, too. “I’m not an Italian grandma and I never was,” he says with a laugh about the food. “But if you go to an Italian grandma’s house, the [Monteverdi dishes] are the things you might see.”

The development of the menu (“elevated Italian,” per Greenberg) was a close-knit process, too. Anyone who’s ever worked in a restaurant knows that the team becomes somewhat of a family—and often coworkers are the people you see more than your actual family. About a year ago, the Royal Sonesta approached Greenberg about taking over the space formerly occupied by Restaurant Dante, and since January, Ellis has been developing the menu, bouncing ideas off Greenberg and Hector Hernandez (executive chef at both Serafina locations, who served as consulting chef for Monteverdi).

Cocktails at Monteverdi, the new Italian restaurant in the Royal Sonesta Boston hotel. / Courtesy


The restaurant itself is also a place that’s ideal for familial gatherings. With sweeping views of the Charles River, which is just steps away, it’s easy to picture long hangouts on the patio that seats about 90, with tables and couches. “With the couch sections and the tables, you could just come in for the afternoon and sit down and have a glass of rosé with some friends and just spend an afternoon,” Greenberg says about the vibe. Gather with loved ones as the sun sets, snack on warm marinated olives, fermented focaccia, and olive oil that’s steeped with herbs, chili flakes, and orange. Then move inside for dinner, where the interior seats about 140 and is split into a main dining room, a private dining room, a bar, and a lounge that lends a still-intimate feel to the space. Greenberg tasked frequent collaborator Petra Hausberger of Somerton Park Interiors to craft an interior that’s reminiscent of the Italian Dolomites, from the terrazzo porcelain flooring to the walnut-fluted walls. Muted shades of walnut, ochre, and olive suffuse the space, accented by bronze mirrors and plaster pendants. “She ‘Petra-fied’ the space,” says Greenberg, leaning into the pun, “and really made it beautiful and special.”


Chef Ellis—an alum of Dorchester’s Ashmont Grill, Rendezvous, and most recently Dovetail in Cambridge—doesn’t overcomplicate the menu, sticking to straight-forward preparations with few ingredients. The menu features seven sections: cicchetti, antipasti, insalata, flatbread pizzas, pasta, secondi, and contorno (or a handful of sides like polenta and parmesan and garlic fries). “I want those to be quick dishes,” Ellis says of the cicchetti. “You’re sitting at the bar, you’re sitting outside, and you order those things by the piece, almost like a version of tapas, but Italian style.” In other words, savor vodka-poached shrimp cocktail and crispy halved artichoke hearts while you mull over the menu.

In the antipasti section, the antipasto platter steals the show, brimming with marinated mozzarella, sliced cured meats, and pickled vegetables. Other old-school bites include a classic Carpaccio of peppercorn-rolled beef that’s topped with thin crostini, parmesan, and a fennel and arugula salad to cut the richness. And what’s an Italian spot without meatballs? Ellis owes the flavorful, juicy interiors of his meatballs to a mix of milk, parm, eggs, and toasted breadcrumbs (called a panade) that’s added to the prime ground beef. For the ragu, “It’s basically like Grandma being at home,” he says. “We cook it for four hours. It’s all about the time and reducing the sauce down and checking the flavors.”

The five-plate insalata (or salad) menu sings with simplicity. A shaved beet salad finds brightness with pickled onions and capers, with a rich croquette of herbed goat cheese. Ellis makes his own dressing in small batches for the little gem Caesar salad, featuring anchovies both in the dressing and atop the greens as filets. The pizzas, meanwhile, first hit the grill, then are finished to order in the oven. Variations include sausage, ricotta, and mushroom—and a pie with imported Piedmont Robiola due Latti cheese and black truffles joining Ellis’s favorite, the simple margherita.


Of course, you must dive into the fresh pastas. While summer is around the corner, Ellis lingers in the beauty of spring with a pesto-tossed gnocchi dish served with asparagus, peas, and other veggies. The linguine Vongole, meanwhile, features both chopped and whole small Cape Cod “gem” clams in a simple sauce of white whine and garlic that packs a bit of heat, thanks to the imported Calabrian chili. Ellis’s favorite, though, is the bucatini—a giant macaroni-like pasta that he calls “fun and bouncy”—served with tiny Alabama red shrimp and pancetta in an umami-bomb pan sauce of roasted tomatoes and herbs.

While the secondi, or entrée section, is broadly Italian too—peep the pork Milanese, the mushroom risotto, and the whole-grilled branzino fish—the standout may feel familiar to Boston diners. The roasted chicken is a tribute to a dish served at the Hamersley’s Bistro, the iconic South End French restaurant owned by Gordon Hamersley that closed in 2014 after a 27-year run. You can still find a video of Hamersley cooking his dish for Julia Child on YouTube. “I mentioned to [Ellis] that one of the great dishes of Boston that I haven’t experienced in a long time was that incredible chicken that Gordon did,” Greenberg says. As it turns out, Ellis had previously worked at Rendezvous with Steve Johnson, who had been sous chef to Hammersley, they’d done a version of the herb-rubbed chicken at the now-shuttered Cambridge restaurant. Ellis steps slightly into Italian territory by adding roasted Cipollini onions to his elevated version. Meanwhile, the accompanying fondant potatoes are cooked twice: first getting a hard sear in a pan with butter and herbs, then roasting in stock until the liquid evaporates, leaving a crispy outside and a velvety interior.

Ellis might not be an Italian grandmother, but he’s following in the footsteps of his own grandmother, Katherine Ellis, who helped launch the school dining program at Somerset High School back in the 1960s, when school meals were still scratch-made. There, she whipped up pie dough, turnovers, cinnamon rolls, and more. Honoring her, Ellis bakes chocolate tortes and homemade fennel and orange biscotti to serve alongside affogatos—and those beauties are enough to make any grandmother proud.

40 Edwin H Land Blvd., Cambridge, 617-806-4100,; opening hours: Monday through Thursday, 4 pm. to 10 p.m.; Friday 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Lunch, brunch, and al fresco raw bar service will roll out in the coming weeks.