A new Pembroke restaurant puts a fresh spin on Italian cuisine.
By Maria Allen
Photography by Kjeld Mahoney
Anyone who has traveled to Florence, Italy, will immediately recognize the wall-sized photograph of the Ponte Vecchio that wraps around the dining room at Osteria Vivo in Pembroke. If visitors were to judge a book by its cover, one might mistakenly assume the menu at this new eatery to be heavy on old-world standards. But in actuality, the culinary experience is far more complex, offering a fresh take on classic Italian cuisine.
Osteria Vivo opened its doors in July of 2021, and it didn’t take long for the restaurant to gain a local following. The fact that veteran restaurateurs Jimmy Burke and wife Joanie Wilson came out of retirement at the height of a global pandemic to open a new restaurant on the South Shore may seem a bit surprising. However, the culinary couple has a shared passion for food and hospitality that runs deep. Over the years, they have operated numerous restaurants together, including Riva in Scituate, Orta in Pembroke, and JW’s Burger Bar and Pizzeria in Scituate. Most recently, the couple owned a restaurant called Vivo in Bridgeton, Maine, which they sold in 2019, when they “retired.”
“COVID hit and we got bored,” explains Wilson, who found the restaurant location in Pembroke and floated the idea of a new restaurant to her husband. After some discussion they decided to give it a go and teamed up with executive chef Douglas Rodrigues to create a one-of-a-kind dining destination on the South Shore.
Wilson was the person in charge of the restaurant’s inviting decor, which features pistachio green walls and personalized photos at the bar that showcase the couple’s adventures in Italy as well as snapshots with notable chef friends. Even the bathroom decor is interesting, with sleek Italian car posters in the men’s room and Italian movie posters in the ladies room, not to mention an entire wall that is papered with recipe pages from Wilson’s grandmother’s cookbook.
The menu at Osteria Vivo is a collaboration between chefs Burke and Rodriguez, who grew up in Scituate and whose experience in the kitchen at Boston restaurants like Clio, Liquid Art House and Aquitaine influenced his modern and technical approach to crafting dishes.
Popular menu items at Osteria Vivo include flavorful antipasti, like a delicate salmon crudo that is drizzled in celery leaf pesto, olive oil and a touch of green apple; and a Wagyu beef carpaccio that comes artfully plated with sauvignon poached dried cherries, spring onion and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. Favorite entrees include pasta al limone with dayboat scallops that offers the perfect balance of creaminess and lemony zest. For dessert, we loved the torta della nonna adorned with fresh strawberries and honey. The restaurant also has an impressive wine and craft cocktail list, with regulars clamoring for bartender Sylvain Linozzi’s amazing espresso martinis.
“The name Osteria Vivo means lively tavern,” says Burke, who is happy to see locals once again coming together to raise a glass together. “Our goal is to serve the best food on the South Shore.”