10 New dining spots on the south shore that opened during the pandemic.
By Sara Frazier
There’s never been a better time to support local restaurants. It’s no secret that 2020 was a challenging year for the restaurant industry due to the coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully, many South Shore restaurateurs have managed to weather the storm of uncertainty and a few have even taken a leap of faith by opening new dining establishments. Whether you’re craving steak, sushi, or creative pub fare, these 10 new eateries have got you covered.
Alba on 53
TEAM: The owner of Alba on 53 in Hanover, restaurateur Leo Keka is considered a legend in the Greater Boston dining scene. His industry experience spans over 30 years and is anchored by his flagship restaurant in Quincy, Alba, which has been in operation for 19 years. In the kitchen at his new restaurant, Alba on 53, is executive chef Todd Renner, a California native who worked in San Diego and at such restaurants as Cinquecento in Boston.
VISION: Realizing that many of his customers at Alba in Quincy were driving from Hanover and towns further afield, Keka decided to locate his newest dining establishment closer to these communities. Alba on 53 opened its doors at Merchant’s Row in Hanover in August of 2020.
VIBE: Occupying 7,500 square feet and seating up to 240 guests (without COVID restrictions), Alba on 53 is an impressive sight to behold. The atmosphere could be described as business-casual, but it’s more than that. Large glass windows and high ceilings with thick wooden beams give the space a modern, open feel. Elegant booths make customers feel right at home.
FLAVOR: Similar to its sister restaurant, the menu at Alba on 53 offers prime beef, fresh local seafood and house-made pastas, but it also features bright and flavorful Eastern Mediterranean flavors. Try the grilled za’atar flatbread with baba ghanoush, tzatziki and sweet pepper hummus. The wine list is massive, with 700 bottles to choose from, including the best in California cabernet and Italian reds.
TEAM: Restauranteur Kara Tondorf is the creative force behind Salt Society. Scituate’s newest hot spot for sushi and cocktails opened on August 1. Sushi chef Pradeep Budhathoki hails from Nepal and brings 20 years of experience to the table.
VISION: Having signed the lease for her restaurant a week before businesses began shutting down due to the pandemic, Tondorf found herself between a rock and a hard place. Rather than give up on her dream, she focused on the details, from craft cocktails to the overall ambiance. She even hand-picked every song on the restaurant’s playlist.
VIBE: Situated on Front Street in Scituate Harbor, Salt Society has a hip style, with concrete countertops and handmade furniture. Tondorf curated a Prohibition-era-inspired speakeasy vibe by showcasing one-of-a-kind craft cocktails.
FLAVOR: Fresh, beautifully plated sushi is the main attraction but there are delicious non-seafood options as well. The cocktails at Salt Society are a must, thanks to the talented team of mixologists. Try the Dizzy Dame or the Front Street Hot Toddy.
TEAM:Opening one restaurant during a pandemic is impressive, but restaurateur Kara Tondorf managed to open two. The owner of Rivershed in Scituate is bringing a new Rivershed location to Braintree (she opened Salt Society in the summer). Chef Nevin Perry has been working with Tondorf for years and will oversee the menu at both Rivershed locations.
VISION: After closing her popular restaurant, Riva, during the pandemic, Tondorf is eager to keep the South Shore happy and well fed. Inspired by the popularity of her existing Rivershed location, she wanted to bring the quality dining and live music experience a bit closer to the city.
VIBE: The high ceilings at Rivershed in Braintree allowed Tondorf to build a mezzanine with space for dining on the second floor as well as a stage for musical performers. Rivershed was originally inspired by Tondorf’s love for the music and is a popular place for local artists to perform. The Scituate location even hosts a Songwriter’s Festival.
FLAVOR: While the Braintree location may have a few different menu specials, Tondorf says she is replicating the basic concept from Rivershed in Scituate. If you haven’t dined at the Scituate location before, think burgers, barbecue, craft beer and tacos with a Southern twist
The Artisan Pig
TEAM:The Artisan Pig is the brainchild of husband-and-wife duo Andrew and Samantha Rivera-Myers. Andrew has cooked across the country, including at Incanto in San Francisco with Chef Chris Cosentino and at Ox Restaurant in Portland, Oregon. Samantha grew up in Plymouth and has also worked in restaurants for many years.
VISION: The couple started selling sausages, pork rinds and spice rubs at farmers’ markets in southern Maine last summer and soon began making plans to open their own restaurant. They signed the lease for The Artisan Pig at the beginning of March, but due to the COVID-19 shutdown, they shifted their opening toward the end of 2020.
VIBE: The Court Street restaurant affords distant views of Plymouth Harbor. The building’s beautifully arched windows sealed the deal for the owners, who immediately knew it was the right home for The Artisan Pig. Inside, the restaurant decor is cozy and inviting, with leathered granite countertops, tin ceilings and a tiled wood-fired oven in the open kitchen.
FLAVOR: The team is focusing their culinary efforts on wood-fired pizzas and homemade sausages (Spicy Italian, Chorizo, Hoisin Ginger, Sweet Italian and Mediterranean ). Most elements of the menu will be prepared in-house, using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. Andrew personally recommends the rye pretzels, Pig Pile pizza and the Prosciutto and Olives pizza. Wash down your meal with a craft beer and enjoy a banana bread pudding for dessert.
Lucca South Shore
TEAM: Brothers Sean and Matthew Williams are at the helm of three Lucca locations (North End, Back Bay and now South Shore), along with their business partner, Ted Kennedy. The executive chef of all of these restaurants, Anthony Mazzotta, has quite an impressive resume, having worked at such places as The French Laundry in Napa Valley and sister restaurant Per Se in New York.
VISION: Hailing from Norwell, Sean wanted to open a Lucca location a bit closer to his home. Lucca South Shore opened on January 1, 2020 and offers a classy dining experience and menu of delicious Italian specialties. More than 2,000 square feet of outdoor dining space was added to accommodate public health guidelines.
VIBE: Sean described their newest Lucca location as casual fine dining with a lounge-like atmosphere. The dining room features elegant charcoal gray and white decor and there’s more seating in the bar area, including near a cozy fireplace.
FLAVOR: The menu at Lucca changes often and varies between the different locations. One thing you can always count on, though, is the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients. Lucca South Shore also has an impressive cocktail program and wine list.
Roll Street Tavern
TEAM:Owner Jeffrey Zeitz quit his day job in July and opened his first restaurant together with co-owner Scott Lail. A self-proclaimed foodie, Zeitz developed the menu and recipes for Roll Street Tavern and sous chef Chris Richer helped bring them to life.
VISION: After working as a retail buyer for over 25 years, Zeitz decided to follow his passion for food by starting his own restaurant. Roll Street Tavern opened for business on September 5, after the timeline had been pushed back several months due to COVID-related delays.
VIBE: A Plymouth native, Zeitz has always loved the downtown food scene. At Roll Street Tavern the atmosphere is lively and positive, with inspirational quotes on the wall by everyone from Dr. Seuss to Tom Brady.
FLAVOR: The menu tagline is “familiar foods in unfamiliar ways.” From their creative take on a cheeseburger, served in puff pastry, to a chicken chimichanga in an egg roll, the offerings are certainly unique. Zeitz also decided to strike a balance of healthy options and more indulgent dishes, knowing that healthy food can be delicious, too. It all goes great with Second Wind Brewery draft beers.
TEAM: Evan Harrington and his business partners Nick and Mike, owners of Greyhound Tavern in Bridgewater, joined forces to create Liberty Tavern. Also on board is chef Jason Walker, who previously worked at Anthem in Boston’s Faneuil Hall.
VISION: Having grown up in Quincy and worked as a firefighter for the city, opening a restaurant in town was near and dear to Harrington’s heart. The team aimed to offer an exciting take on a traditional American tavern and opened their doors to customers on July 30.
VIBE: The team gave the space a complete facelift, converting an old pizza shop into a classic, cozy tavern environment, complete with dark wood and flat screen televisions for catching a sports game.
FLAVOR: The menu features elevated renditions of traditional American standards, from steak to seafood. The top-seller is the Liberty Wings, which are wood-fired with brown sugar spice and a buffalo gorgonzola sauce.
Pearl & Lime
TEAM: Pearl and Lime is owned by Palmer Matthews and Devin Adams, two names that are well known in Quincy’s burgeoning restaurant scene (the duo also operate The Townshend). In the kitchen is chef Pedro Fuentes, a sixth-generation Puerto Rican with over a decade of experience working at fine dining establishments in Boston. “As someone who is immensely proud of his Latin background, it’s incredible to see him cooking the food that he is most passionate about for the first time in his professional career,” says Matthews.
VISION: Pearl & Lime, which officially opened its doors on August 20, was born out of Matthews’ desire to open an inviting and unique neighborhood restaurant in his hometown. Matthews also wanted a bar program featuring rum and agave spirits.
VIBE: Located on Hancock Street in Quincy Center, Pearl and Lime has situated itself in the middle of a booming food scene. The restaurant’s interior decor was brought to life by C&J Katz Studio. “It’s warm, vibrant and full of texture. Guests can imagine they are leaving Quincy Center and stepping into an exotic escape,” says Matthews.
FLAVOR: The menu features influences from all across Latin America. You’ll find raw bar options, tacos, and plenty of mouthwatering small plates. Puerto Rican cuisine is well-represented, with Chef Pedro’s family recipe for pastelillos (a Puerto Rican style empanada) taking center stage.
TEAM: Norwell resident Mike Sheehan is the owner of Cheever Tavern. He’s working with general manager Stefania Healy and head chef Joseph Ethier, who previously worked at Yaz’s Table in Abington.
VISION: Sheehan aimed to open a contemporary American tavern in historic Norwell center. The restaurant opened its doors in July (takeout started in June) and Sheehan says the pandemic didn’t disrupt their opening too much, since they had already planned for plenty of seating on the outdoor patio and deck.
VIBE: The dining experience is tasteful and upscale without being intimidating. The restaurant is named after Pulitzer Prize-winning Quincy-born writer John Cheever, who just so happens to be buried in a cemetery located a short distance from the restaurant.
FLAVOR: While the menu is updated quarterly, patrons can always expect to find flavorful takes on American favorites. The fall menu included hits like cider-brined pork chop and butternut squash ravioli. If a guest happens to be a Pulitzer Prize winner, they get a burger on the house. So far, the literary theme has been a huge hit and three visitors have gotten their free burgers.
TEAM: During the summer of 2020, the owners of Quincy’s Victory Point and Il Molo in the North End, Donato Frattaroli Jr. and Sr., teamed up with chef Pino Maffeo to bring a new takeout pizza joint to Quincy.
VISION: As Frattaroli Jr. puts it, when you get the chance to open a business right on the water, you don’t pass it up. Boardwalk Pizza at Victory Point in Marina Bay was designed to be a casual takeout spot that could easily accommodate COVID health restrictions (no more than three customers are inside at one time). The Frattaroli family and chef Maffeo spent countless hours perfecting every aspect of their pizza recipe.
VIBE: “Boardwalk Pizza offers fresh, crispy thin-crust pizza with a combination of Italian and American pizza traditions true to our family’s roots in Abruzzi on the Italian coast,” says Frattaroli Jr.. “Everything is fresh and meant to be enjoyed on a beautiful day here at the boardwalk, on your boat or even in the comfort of your own home.”
FLAVOR: Donato Frattaroli Jr. made sure the menu has something for everybody. Customers can enjoy pizzas packed with protein, vegan and vegetarian varieties, and also spicy and sweet options. His top recommendation, however, is a slice of cheese pizza, well done.