You’ve barely cleaned the oyster mignonette out of your Nantucket Reds from summer vacation, and already winter is here and sparkling new restaurants are beckoning you back to the city. Well, clear your plate because a whole new season of winter feasting awaits.
Let’s start with Mariel (formerly La Sirena, 10 Post Office Square). The latest entry from the COJE Management Group (RUKA Restobar, Yvonne’s and Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar in Back Bay and Fort Point) is an ode to Cuban culture. Known for its design-meets-dining prowess, the group’s other destinations spotlight all manner of statement furnishings, dramatic lighting and singular murals, and Mariel is no different. A few steps inside the Post Office Square spot housed in an old bank and you’ll find yourself in an elegant replica of old Havana, from the towering dining room to the Cuban menu.
Also just opened: the latest offering from culinary firebrand Tiffani Faison. The two-time James Beard Award nominee generally holds nothing back in her concepts (which include Sweet Cheeks Q, Tiger Mama and Fool’s Errand), and Orfano (1391 Boylston St., orfanoboston.com) doesn’t either. This one riffs on Italian-American selections (antipasti, housemade pastas and chops) prepared with nontraditional ingredients— all in a 196-seat spot in the Fenway with patio seating for cocktails and snacks. It’s Faison’s fourth eatery but the first of three new creations from her this fall; she’ll also open doors on two fast-casual spots at downtown’s High Street Place food hall.
Meanwhile, Back Bay will roll out the red carpet for two swanky Greek newcomers, Krasi and Hecate (48 Gloucester St., krasiboston.com), in the old Caffe Jaffa space. The brainchildren of Demetri Tsolakis (of Committee Ouzeri + Bar and GreCo), both will be decidedly upscale, with design elements like a white porcelain bar top, an open kitchen and a big wood-fired oven. Upstairs, Krasi will take meze and wine as its raison d’être, while Hecate will be an aperitif and cocktail bar downstairs. Chef Theo Tsilipanos is whipping up plates of zucchini carpaccio with shaved San Michali cheese, pine nuts, olive oil and basil; gyros of crispy pork belly, metaxa-fig glaze and apple-walnut tzatziki in pitas; and fried mussels, ouzo batter and mint oil. “In Greek culture, we believe in the idea of making friends of strangers,” says Tsolakis. “With great food and wine, and great comfort. And that’s what we’ll do here.”