Sometimes when one door closes, another door opens — in the exact same spot.
Over the summer, North End restaurateur Frank DePasquale moved his Italian seafood restaurant Mare from 135 Richmond Street to a new location (complete with a patio and firepit) at 3 Mechanic Street, then expanding the menu and tweaking the name (it's now Mare Oyster and Crudo Bar). But this week, the Richmond Street address was revived as the home for DePasquale's latest venture, Sfizi, now bringing the neighborhood a 30-dish deep menu of Mediterranean-spanning small plates. Although there's plenty of Italian offerings ("sfizi" being an Italian term for small or snack-sized dishes), this newcomer moves much further beyond the boot than other DePasquale destinations: options also reflect Portugal (beef short ribs with a spicy fruit glaze), Turkey (quail and vine-wrapped sujuk with walnut sauce) and Greece (seared lamb with tzatziki), among others. Besides the small plates, the menu features one weekly-rotating, large-format fish, red meat and chicken entree. And in the kitchen is exec chef Gianni Caruso, previously of other DePasquale restaurants Bricco, Umbria and Quattro.
The interior should look mostly familiar to Mare fans, but given that Sfizi has a whole new culinary concept, it seemed a food porn peek was in order. Behold some of the tasty sfizi that now await.
You can't offer Italian small plates without including arancini ($8). Here, the saffron rice balls are filled with pulled rib meat.
Culling inspiration from Spain, Sfizi offers up chorizo y barberechos ($10), a wine sauté of littleneck clams with chorizo and garden herbs.
We're delighted with the pork belly ($10), grilled crispy and served over a polenta medallion.
Just say "oui" to moelle de boeuf ($13), French-inspired bone marrow gratin served with rosemary- and garlic-toasted bread.
The crispy calamari ($9) is served with delicious hot peppers and smoked salt.
Eat your colors and spice up your life with Spanish-inspired baby sweet peppers ($7) stuffed with salt cod.