We're barely into 2016, and it's already looking like a great year for Boston restaurants. Some openings, of course, make a bigger impact than others. But consider this the first in a series of regular check-ins on which new restaurants are making waves and shaping the city's scene.
Why It's Important: Because this big Italian restaurant completes a hat trick for the same team behind Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant and Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar — their third hit in this corner of South Boston. It also sees the return of chef Anthony Susi, who helmed the one-time South End standout Sage before moving to NYC, and bar manager Kevin Mabry, a former 30 Under 30 star who is one of the city's top cocktail gurus.
Must-Try: The beef and pork meatballs ($12) are tender and terrific. But to check out a few other standout dishes, see our overview of Capo here.
443 West Broadway, South Boston; 617-993-8080
Why It's Important: Because we've been pining to get inside this highly anticipated brick-and-mortar debut from Bread & Salt Hospitality, the duo comprised of two 30 Under 30 stars: chef Josh Lewin and Katrina Jazayeri. (Who make a pretty cute couple, incidentally.) Their European-style cafe in Union Square focuses on refined technique in comfortable surroundings, a place where you can grab a grain bowl or linger at the open kitchen's counter for a prix fixe breakfast program with matcha tea service.
Must-Try: Lewin's thoughtfulness is exemplified in this ragu alla bolognese ($16). Pork, veal and beef is cooked super-slowly, deglazed five times and simmered for hours to develop as much flavor as possible. The tagliatelle is housemade and incorporates lemons charred in chicken fat, dried completely and then ground into a powder for the final rolling of the pasta.
257 Washington St., Somerville; 617-781-0958
Why It's Important: Because suburbanites deserve great dining — and those of us downtown sometimes invite an excuse to use up those Uber credits. This East Asian soul-food joint comes from the team behind Newton's Sycamore Restaurant. Their tiny, contemporary diner-style digs host rice bowls with mix-ins, steaming and spicy ramen options plucked from a table-side caddy, and funky street foods — like some awesome Green Sriracha Chicken Wings ($10).
Must-Try: Dive into bowls of pork-loaded ramen ($15) that can be spruced up with plenty of extras, like smoked honey corn and soft boiled eggs.
1247 Centre St., Newton; 857-404-0068
Pelekasis at Wink & Nod
Why It's Important: Because in case you've been living under a rock, Greek cuisine is huge in Boston right now. So, we were excited to see that the next concept arriving at the "culinary incubator" that is Wink & Nod's kitchen is this modern Greek from chef Brendan Pelley, formerly of Zebra's Bistro, who taps into his own heritage — and even his mom's recipes — to create some inspired new takes on Hellenic eats.
Must-Try: We love the foie gras dolmades ($12) from the mezethes (small plates) corner of the menu. Grape leaves are stuffed with foie gras, rice, pine nuts and golden raisins, seared in brown butter and garnished with a puree of golden raisins and toasted pine nuts.
3 Appleton St.; 617-482-0117
Why It's Important: Because it's the latest entry from the Coda Group — the team behind Canary Square, The Salty Pig and Coda – and taps into the talents of two co-chefs, Kevin O'Donnell and Michael Lombardi, one of our most recent 30 Under 30 honorees. Plus, SRV (short for Serene Republic of Venice) brings its housemade pastas, Italian small plates and wine bar-inspired environs to a side of Columbus Avenue that has needed some new dining options for South End residents and visitors alike.
Must-Try: Hearty appetites should go for the Venetian Fisherman's Stew loaded with shellfish and baccala mantecato, or whipped cod, with chili and tomato.
569 Columbus Ave.; 617-536-9500
Why It's Important: Because this ultra-intimate (20 seats) eatery is a cool concept from current Top Chef contestant Carl Dooley, who remains in the running on the show's 13th season. (You can do it, Dooley!) Every night offers a regularly changing four-course tasting menu (with optional beverage pairings) that marries contemporary French technique with local ingredients and global influence.
Must-Try: Menus change often, but right now you'll find plates like foie-gras stuffed chicken leg with artichoke barigoule and roasted cauliflower with a fennel and pork ragu.
2447 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617-871-9468