Den Master: Chef Karen Akunowicz helms the kitchen at Fox & the Knife.
Inspired by the art of aperitivo, James Beard-winning chef Karen Akunowicz is bringing an Italian-style enoteca to South Boston with her first solo venture, Fox & the Knife, slated to open in January. The Top Chef alum and former executive chef of Myers + Chang pays homage to her time helming the kitchen at L’Avian Blu Enoteca with updated takes on classic dishes and a drink menu that’s focused on aperitifs.
“I lived in Modena for more than a year and really immersed myself in the cuisine and the culture there,” Akunowicz says. “Whether it be a flavor or ingredient that gets sprinkled throughout, this is really a menu inspired by my time in Italy.”
The bar will open for aperitivo hour at 4 pm before nightly dinner service, and there are plans for weekend brunch. The menu will highlight Italian classics that combine traditional and modern techniques, such as smoked pollo e mattone served with sumac and greens, grilled broccoli Caesar salad and orecchiette with feta. The bar program—spearheaded by beverage director/general manager Alexandra Hayden, formerly of the Beehive and Barcelona Wine Bar—will feature aperitifs, amaros and spritzes, plus eight taps to dispense cocktails, as well as a wine list that will spotlight “badass” female winemakers.
“Part of the dream that I always had for this restaurant was to really embody the concept of aperitivo,” Akunowicz says. “It’s the spirit of coming together over a bianco vermouth with a twist of lemon or an Aperol spritz and that joyousness around eating and drinking together. That’s always been a big part of this concept.”
Akunowicz tapped Jessica Haley of RODE Architects to update the ex-Maiden’s 80-seat interior. While customers might recognize a few design aspects from its former occupant, such as the 18-foot white oak bar and hexagon floor tiles, Akunowicz puts her own spin on the space with a mural by Alexis Weinrich and a new layout that includes a six-seat chef’s table.
“When I found the space, I knew immediately that this was the restaurant that it was,” Akunowicz says. “It screams neighborhood cozy, the type of place you just want to come to hang out.”
Fox & the Knife 28 W. Broadway, Boston (617-766-8630) foxandtheknife.com