Opening a new restaurant is usually a personal endeavor, but it’s especially personal for Phil Frattaroli as he prepares to open Cunard Tavern in East Boston’s Jeffries Point. That’s because the tavern, slated to open in late May, is on the ground floor of a new mixed-use building that sits where Frattaroli’s grandfather made his living with his own company, Oscar’s Woodworking, from 1961 till 2010.
“I remember coming as a little kid, and it was like visiting Santa Claus’ workshop,” Frattaroli says. “He died a couple of years ago, but it meant a lot to him before he died that this was going to live on in the family.”
The nods to the woodworking shop are felt throughout the building, from a weathered wood exterior to the 1947 Delta table saw that’s been repurposed as a host stand. The letters from the sign for Oscar’s will hang in the building’s lobby, and the shelving behind the 9-seat bar will be styled to look like the shelves in a woodshop. Elsewhere, the restaurant’s 65-seat interior reflects the industrial vibe of the area, with a shipping container’s walls forming the base of the bar and a drink rail and the container’s doors serving as the kitchen doors.
Inside the kitchen, chef Anthony Pino will soon be at work preparing New American cuisine such as a fried clam burger that tops a beef patty with fried clams, cheese and tartar sauce. Other seafood dishes include pan-seared scallops served over a chilled lobster and sweet corn salad, as well as a Sicilian-style tuna crudo with a fennel and onion salad. Salads including a strawberry and asparagus dish will be on the menu as well. The beverage program will feature local craft beers and craft cocktails. A bar is also located on the fourth-floor roof deck, which will seat 35 at lowtop tables and provide patrons with waterfront views. “It’s pretty unique in the city to have this nice water view,” Frattaroli says.
As East Boston adds hundreds of housing units in the next few years, he’s hoping Cunard Tavern—and its neighbor the Point (a yoga and barre studio)—can fill a void for new residents.
“It’s always been a location that served the neighborhood, and people still come up to me and say they have cabinets that my grandfather made for them and stuff like that. I really think the restaurant will be a service to the neighborhood,” he says. “This will be a place where neighbors come to meet and talk to each other and celebrate together.”
Cunard Tavern 24 Orleans St., Boston (617-567-7609) cunardtavern.com