Building booms are occurring all across the city, and Southie’s First Street area is no different, with new condo buildings rising on many blocks, a new dog park recently opened and plans in the works to redevelop the old Boston Edison power plant. But a new eatery was missing from all the development—until now. Publico Street Bistro is set to open in January on the ground floor of the new Allure apartments.
“We’re smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood, and we want all of our neighbors’ support,” says Theo Bougas, a co-owner with Jairo Dominguez and Teodora Bakardzhieva. “We want to be very inviting. We don’t want to be too uptight. This was initially supposed to be a sports bar, and we’re not that.”
The three restaurant veterans tapped Keenan Langlois (formerly of the Sinclair) to helm the kitchen, which will turn out dishes with European and South American influences. Dishes such as steak tartare tacos or a crepe with a corn mousse will bridge the two continents; others such as tagliatelle Bolognese or a roasted chicken will adhere to a more traditional take. Langlois says less adventurous diners will still find a burger and a variety of pizzas on the menu, and there will also be a whole fried fish.
“I like to make food that is relatable to people and they can recognize it, and then they eat it and it either reminds them of stuff they’ve had in the past and it gives them a good feeling, or it gives them a new experience,” Langlois says. “Every once in a while, we’ll throw in stuff they’ve never had before, and once we earn that trust, we say, ‘OK, now tried seared chicken livers,’ or something like that. Then they say, ‘OK, this guy’s a good chef, let’s try it.’ And they say, ‘OK, that’s real good.’ ”
Publico—with a vibe described as mid-century meets rustic—is split into three distinct spaces. On the left side is a 60-seat dining area with a communal table in the center and several other tables surrounding it. A section by the 13-seat bar has four hightop tables near the full-length windows that will open during warmer weather. Speaking of, in the back of the restaurant but the center of the building is the 36-seat courtyard, which will have central hightop tables situated under a trellis, lounge sectionals along the sides and a bar along one wall.
Bakardzhieva heads up the beverage program, with 35 wines, nearly half available by the glass, as well as a simple cocktail list that will lean a little South American as she aims to educate customers on the finer points of pisco beyond pisco sours. Bartending is a shared background for Dominguez and Bougas as well, who have been friends since the ’90s, when they both tended bar at Seth Greenberg’s M-80. And they’ve been talking about opening a restaurant for years.
“He’s my dearest friend. We always talked about it. And then this thing came around, and we said, ‘Let’s do this,’ ” Bougas says. “And here we are today.”
Publico Street Bistro 11 Dorchester St., Boston. publicoboston.com