The casual Italian-style restaurant and wine bar brings award-winning chefs to the heart of Back Bay.
For more than two years, Bostonian globetrotters Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette have been traveling much less than usual. Previously, award-winning chefs from Toro, Coppa and Little Donkey also had several restaurants outside of our city, and they sought inspiration each year while traveling internationally with members of their hospitality teams. Although they’ve been spending a lot more time at home lately, their new restaurant and bar still draws a lot of inspiration from their latest adventure – and not only that, but infuses it with local ingredients and talent, personal touches and the relaxed atmosphere of the moment.
Faccia Brutta and its natural wine-focused sibling, Bar Pallino, will open on Tuesday, May 24 on two levels of a townhouse with a patio on Newbury Street. Respectively inspired by the cuisine of coastal Italy and the bottle-filled bars of Paris, the James Beard Award-winning duo’s first new concepts since 2016 showcase the relaxing, raw and rustic flavors of Sicily, Liguria and of Sardinia, as well as responsibly. produced wine, amari and mezcal.
At Faccia Brutta, which means “ugly face”, by the way; an endearment “in the Sicilian tradition of broken balls,” says Oringer — expect a full selection of seasonal snacks and appetizers like grilled white asparagus with espresso barbecue and smoked Parmesan cream; filled pastas and noodles, including many gluten-free offerings; big plates like grilled lobster served with calabrian pepper butter and clam vinaigrette; and homemade ice cream and desserts.
The Pallino Bar, named after the small target ball in a game of pétanque, will offer its own unique snacks, including “an Italian version of the gilda”, a pintxo of olives, anchovies and pickled peppers. “We’re going to take our turn on things and make it very interesting,” promises Bissonnette. The seafood and “farmer’s market oriented” cuisine of both spots certainly suits a restaurant in Back Bay, which is near Boston’s famous fishing piers and the city’s largest farmer’s market in Copley. Square.
Although plans for Faccia Brutta and Bar Pallino have been in the works since before the pandemic, the chefs say having an extended timeline for the project has allowed them to refine their vision. Additionally, the challenges of the past two years have also forced Bissonnette and Oringer’s JK food group to close its Toro outposts in New York and Dubai, leading to spending more time in Boston, working with young managers and giving them the means to take on new responsibilities. , says Oringer.
For example, after five years at the helm of the famous Coppa in the South End, Brian Rae is the executive chef of these two new places. “We felt he deserved to have a bigger stage to show off his skills,” Oringer said, describing Coppa’s cramped kitchen. Meanwhile, Jodie Battles, longtime director of beverages for all of JK Food Group’s restaurants, takes on an ownership role at Bar Pallino, in addition to bringing her favorite bottles. And the subterranean wine bar is even decorated with in-house photographs: Katy Chirichiello, managing partner of Little Donkey, used her iPhone during the team’s last trip to Italy to snap the pétanque photos that inspired its name.
Elsewhere on the decor front, Faccia Brutta is also repurposing some fixtures and furniture from Toro New York: the whitewashed wooden beams, millwork and vintage mirrors in the gated location have all been given new life on Newbury Street. . (New York-based New World Design Builders, which also designed Toro NY, is responsible for the two new spots.) Rustic beams, white oak floors and whitewashed brick walls by Faccia Brutta help to a lived-in, airy aesthetic inside the 100-seat Restaurant, whose floor-to-ceiling windows let in lots of natural light and make the space feel airy and open. Gold glass and mosaic chandeliers filled with living greenery hang from the ceiling, reminiscent of the 40-seat garden patio outside, as well as the main entrance arch adorned with begonias and Boston ivy.
A 16-seat bar anchors Faccia Brutta’s interior, while the exposed kitchen line should cultivate the same dynamic dining room energy that crackles at Toro and Coppa, says Bissonnette. Downstairs, out of sight, is a large prep kitchen where Chef Rae’s teams will prepare pasta from scratch, and there’s a separate area to prepare gluten-free pasta options. “My daughter is celiac, so I’ve been playing with gluten-free pasta for a few years. We’re going to have a really big selection,” says Oringer.
To settle in for a sip at Bar Pallino, you’ll head to its separate entrance from the public driveway between Gloucester and Fairfield streets. Step down to discover a 30-seat basement bar outfitted with a turntable and records from Bissonnette’s own collection, and a more sophisticated vibe: think dark, textured walls and antique pendant lights. Customers are invited to choose records from the shelves full of vinyl and ask the bartender to try them. Bissonnette estimates that she has over 10,000 albums in her possession and will regularly spin new material at Bar Pallino.
“If it was someone’s finished basement, it would be your very rich uncle,” Bissonnette laughs.
Natural wines, amari from Italy and mezcal, Bissonnette’s favorite, are in the spotlight at Bar Pallino, and Faccia Brutta will specialize in classic Italian cocktails. However, both locations are fully licensed and will be fully stocked. “It’s going to be really laid back and really funky,” says Oringer. We’ll see soon enough: Brutta facade accept now Reservations for dinner starting Tuesday, May 24, followed by lunch and brunch. Pallino Bar will open the same evening for walk-ins only.
278 Newbury Street, Boston, facciabruttabos.com.