Frank De Pasquale cannot hide his love for the North End, but the restaurateur is more than fine with hiding his latest restaurant. That’s why Mare, which recently closed its Richmond Street location, opened its new location in late July in the Bricco Suites complex, down a brick alley off Hanover Street, with no signs visible from the popular tourist-filled street.
“We want to give people a way to get away from the fast tracks of Hanover or Parmenter Streets,” De Pasquale says. “This is a hidden secret here. Not too many people know about it.”
The location isn’t the only thing new for Mare, which boasts white marble walls and light hardwood floors throughout. The capacity has almost doubled from its previous size, with indoor seating for 46 people at tables and a few bar stools and space for 90 more outside. The outdoor lounge features seats surrounding fire pits, while the outdoor dining area is covered by a retractable roof imported from Florence—and both spots on the back patio offer a view of the Financial District skyline.
“We basically have one of the best views in the whole city. At nighttime, it’s just absolutely spectacular,” De Pasquale says. “The music will be Miami-style, chill music. As the night goes on, the music gets louder. We have no abutters or anything, so we can give it a nice feel.”
Befitting the name, Mare will remain a seafood restaurant, but De Pasquale and chef Nello Caccioppoli (Umbria, Bricco) have expanded the menu beyond familiar fillets for a more contemporary feel. There will be crudos, whole-fish preparations (from salted to cooked acqua pazza) and what De Pasquale calls one of the largest oyster selections in Boston. Diners can expect specials such as langoustine, onaga and branzino, along with a large selection of beers, plus wines from Europe and North America and a selection of cordials.
The fresh start for Mare in the old Ida’s space coincides with a few other changes to De Pasquale’s North End empire. Sfizi, a Mediterranean tapas spot, will open in the old Mare space in a couple of months. His first restaurant, Trattoria Il Panino, is celebrating its 30th anniversary by expanding into the adjacent Caffe Pompei, making room for a 40-seat bar and private function space. And his Bricco Suites have also grown in size. Luckily for De Pasquale, he says there’s no shortage of business.
“The North End is busier and busier. We thought we might be hurt by these other neighborhoods moving forward in Boston, but the North End stays stronger,” De Pasquale says. “This is Italy in the United States. It really is. Not just by name, but the food quality, the pastries, that neighborhood feel. You’re not just leaving a restaurant and going home. You’ll probably go have dessert somewhere else or walk around the neighborhood and chat with the people on the benches.”
Mare 3 Mechanic St., Boston, mareoysterbar.com