After a long, hard winter and fall (and year) for restaurants, the sure signs of spring are beginning to appear: new openings, along with post-hibernation reopenings, and retooling at places long on the scene. (Uni has a taco truck! Café du Pays is now Vincent’s!) We are still in the middle of a pandemic, and masks, vaccines, fresh air, and small, careful in-group gatherings remain the order of the day. But it feels hopeful. There is much to look forward to. Here are 8 things on the horizon for local diners to get excited about:
1. The chance to order from restaurants that opened shortly before or during the pandemic. These were subject to the same starts and stops experienced across the industry, but without the name recognition and existing customer base.
Atlántico, opened in October, closed temporarily in November. Now it’s back, in the South End space that was formerly Southern Proper. Fans of chef Michael Serpa’s cozy Select Oyster Bar and Grand Tour will find more room to spread out on the generous patio, for seafood-focused Spanish and Portuguese small plates, brimming platters of paella, and weekend brunch. It’s also a café by day.
In Somerville’s Union Square, Mexico City-style hangout Barra offers takeout, delivery, and a heated patio. The menu features refreshing aguachiles made with the raw fish of the day, crispy fried shrimp tacos and plump bean-and-cheese tetelas, all manner of mezcal, and more. At the South End’s Revolution Hotel, blessed with a pleasant patio, Cósmica also serves tacos, along with guacamole, ceviche, and cocktails (available to go). Executive chef Colton Coburn-Wood previously helped create the menu at Yellow Door Taqueria.
And in Chelsea, Tambo 22 reopened at the beginning of the month. There’s takeout, a patio, and a menu inspired by visionary chef Jose Duarte’s native Peru: ceviche, aji de gallina, banana leaf-wrapped Amazonian fish, brunch. And where else in town can you get a burger made with alpaca? These are just a few of the local restaurants that aren’t new but might as well be, because they will be new to so many.
Atlántico, 600 Harrison Ave., South End, Boston, 857-233-2898, www.atlanticoboston.com. Barra, 23a Bow St., Union Square, Somerville, 617-764-1750, www.barraunionsquare.com. Cósmica, 40 Berkeley St., South End, Boston, 617-313-7878, www.cosmicaboston.com. Tambo 22, 22 Adams St., Chelsea, 617-466-9422, www.tambo22chelsea.com.
2. Actually new restaurants! Some to keep an eye out for: Cloud & Spirits, coming to the former Cuchi Cuchi space in Cambridge. Chef Katie Cheung brings her experience from places like Radius, Oishii, Menton, and Kamakura, and applies it to a Korean-inspired menu of dishes like tteok, rice cakes with braised beef cheek and green chile cream sauce; spicy roe spaghetti; and scorched rice soup with prawns and kimchi. (In the meantime, eat Cheung’s Japanese-style sandwiches on house-made shoku pan, milk bread, at pop-up Mikkusu Sando in the same space.)
Chef Douglass Williams is opening a second branch of his South End Italian restaurant: MIDA Newton is located at the TRIO luxury apartment complex.
The team behind Boston restaurants Shojo and Ruckus heads to Hingham with Nomai. Expect a signature mix of deliciousness, tradition, and irreverence from Brian Moy (also behind family business China Pearl) and executive chef Mike Stark. Another branch of Shojo will also come to Cambridge down the road.
Tim and Bronwyn Wiechmann (Bronwyn, T.W. Food) run Turenne, a restaurant-bakery featuring Montreal-style bagels and Francophile wine dinners, in Somerville. Now they are dreaming big in Lincoln: A second Turenne will feature patio dining, an outdoor beer garden, natural wine, live music, a wood-fired oven, and more, in what’s described as “a country manor and garden” — basically, paradise for the pandemic-weary.
And one of the sweetest (and sourest, in the best way) openings is Del’s Lemonade in Arlington. In these parts, it’s been too hard to come by the perfect, refreshing citrus slush spiked with bracing bits of peel. This one’s a summertime game-changer.
Cloud & Spirits and Mikkusu Sando, 795 Main St., Cambridge, www.cloudandspirits.com and https://mikkusu.square.site. MIDA Newton, 261 Walnut St., Newton. Nomai, Derby Street Shops, 100 Derby St., Hingham, www.nomaihingham.com. Turenne, 145 Lincoln Road, Lincoln, www.turennelife.com. Del’s, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, www.dels.com/boston.
3. The pizza boom continues. If one thing was a sure bet in 2020, it was pizza, America’s favorite takeout and delivery option. In Newton, Jinny’s Pizzeria is already firing on all cylinders, producing Neapolitan-ish pies in a wood-fired oven. Wood Fired Love features pies made with local ingredients (and love!) in Mission Hill. Brookline’s excellent Stoked has a new branch near Harvard Square. More to come, including the planned APIZZA from MIDA’s Williams, to feature New Haven- and Roman-style pizza at the Hub on Causeway food hall.
Jinny’s Pizzeria, 1231 Centre St., Newton, 617-467-4764, www.jinnyspizza.com. Wood Fired Love, 134 Smith St., Mission Hill, Boston, 617-322-5299, www.woodfiredlove.com. Stoked, 1611 Massachusetts Ave., 617-945-4071, www.stokedpizzaco.com. APIZZA, 80 Causeway St., Boston, www.apizzaboston.com.
4. As the weather warms and patios beckon, this vaccinated town is going to brunch harder than it has ever brunched before. Get thee to the new Farmer’s Daughter in Sudbury, sister to the original and beloved Easton restaurant of the same name. You’ll find chicken and waffle Benedicts, lemon waffles with citrus-honey turmeric yogurt, and so much more. City brunchers also see the welcome return of stalwarts like Bar Mezzana and Bistro du Midi.
The Farmer’s Daughter, 534F Boston Post Road, Sudbury, 978-261-6832, www.thefarmersdaughtereaston.com. Bar Mezzana, 360 Harrison Ave., South End, Boston, 617-530-1770, www.barmezzana.com. Bistro du Midi, 272 Boylston St., Back Bay, Boston, 617-279-8000, www.bistrodumidi.com.
5. One of the saddest closures of 2020 was the Table at Season to Taste, where diners fell in love with chef Carl Dooley’s thoughtful and delicious menus filled with vibrant flavors from around the world. Now Dooley has stepped in at Mooncusser, reopening this month. The treetop perch in Back Bay, from the 80 Thoreau team, previously featured modern New England cuisine with an emphasis on seafood. It will be exciting to see what Dooley does here, and wonderful to eat his food again.
Also revitalizing Ye Olde New England: Northern Spy, which opened early this year, from the team behind Cambridge’s Loyal Nine. The restaurant brings clam dip, hot fish sandwiches, wood-fired dishes, and much more to Canton. And the upcoming Punch Bowl in Brookline, a salute to a tavern of the same name that operated here in the 18th century. From Jen and Josh Ziskin (La Morra, Heritage of Sherborn), it serves up raw bar, fried clams and seafood chowder, lobster rolls and flatbread, and plenty of signature cocktails — a must given the name and inspiration.
Mooncusser, 304 Stuart St., Back Bay, Boston, 617-917-5193, www.mooncusserfishhouse.com. Northern Spy, 4 Rolling Mill Way, Canton, 781-989-1850, northernspycanton.com. Punch Bowl, the Hilton Garden Inn, 700 Brookline Ave., Brookline, www.punchbowlbrookline.com.
6. Another welcome next step: The talented Giselle Miller, who has worked at Menton, Café ArtScience, Liquid Art House, and Deuxave, is executive pastry chef at the new Bird & Wolf in North Andover. For now, you’ll find almond-orange croissants, tartes au citron, macarons, and more at the café; a full restaurant is coming soon. There’s plenty of excitement on the local café front these days, including new Vietnamese coffee shop and restaurant Cicada Coffee Bar in Central Square and East Boston’s upcoming Café Iterum, focused on sustainability in Maverick Square.
Bird & Wolf, 1268 Osgood St., North Andover, 978-208-1877, www.birdnwolf.com. Cicada Coffee Bar, 106 Prospect St., Central Square, Cambridge, www.cicadacoffeebar.co. Café Iterum, 25 Lewis St., East Boston, www.cafeiterum.com.
7. Drinks, poured and provided for you by actual bartenders. After you burn all your ragged sweatshirts and elastic-waist pants, put on something elegant and head to Trifecta at the Four Seasons on Dalton Street. It’s a cocktail lounge that also serves high tea. And opening this month at Encore Boston Harbor is Night Shift Brewing Kitchen & Tap, featuring pub fare and the beer you love from Night Shift Brewing. Come for the pork belly banh mi, stay for the Whirlpool and Santilli. Or is it the other way around?
8. Waterfront fun. Tyde is coming this summer, making Revere feel ever more like the Riviera. It’s part of the Ryder project, right by the beach. The chef is Greg Reeves of Viale; restaurateur Michael Aldi is also behind nearby restaurants Dryft and Fine Line. And Nantucket continues to expand into the Seaport with Nautilus Pier 4, sister restaurant to the island’s Nautilus. You’ll find plates small — poke! tempura oyster tacos! caramel pork riblets! — and large from executive chef Stephen Marcaurelle (Tres Gatos).