Tavern Road – Boston, Massachusetts

First Taste: Two for the Road

Everything came together for chef/co-owner Louis DiBicarri after acquiring the space for Tavern Road, the new restaurant he opened with his brother Michael. “This is a passion project,” he says. “And you can’t see that passion that far down the road. It isn’t until you get to Fort Point, and you get that feeling in your gut that this neighborhood means something to you.”

Named for the street where their uncle Adio, a Boston sculptor, had a studio, Tavern Road celebrates the arts community that once ruled the neighborhood. The DiBicarris commissioned local artist collective Project Super Friends to produce a 30-foot mural in the main dining room as an homage to their uncle. Sandwiched on both sides by a large open kitchen and the bar area, the mural is accented by a dropped-ceiling centerpiece plastered in the same material Adio used in his works.

To accommodate the lunch crowd in the area, the DiBicarris have a connected room called Street Foods. The carry-out spot offers prepackaged meals, including a cold-cut sandwich made from the previous day’s porchetta—a dish with which Louis has had a long-standing love affair. “It’s the perfect way to showcase the pig all in one composition,” he says. A crisp layer of belly meat stuffed with sausage and tenderloin, the porchetta is sliced and served with raw shaved fennel and olive oil–roasted almonds, and is available on the dine-in menu.

Though this iteration of swine is a chef favorite, there’s also charcuterie and a rotating protein, dubbed “today’s animal,” which comes from a local farm and is prepared four ways. Come spring, goat will make its way to the plate. Tavern Road’s sides are vegetarian, and there’s a separate menu of plant-based selections that also includes gluten-free choices. Diners are encouraged to order multiple options—think polenta with chestnuts and sage and broccoli rabe, lightly caramelized and tossed with golden raisins, pine nuts and vanilla seasoning—to share family style.

“As an artist you want your food to rise up to the same level as the other art,” says Louis, who staffed his kitchen with alums from Persephone, Lumière, Sel de la Terre, Menton and more. “We all work with our hands, everything’s done from scratch, and the plates are canvases.”

Tavern Road 343 Congress St., Boston (617-790-0808) tavernroad.com

This article originally appeared in the February 27, 2013, issue of The Improper Bostonian.