Boston has come a long way with its outdoor dining spaces in the past few years, with prime people-watching patios seemingly crammed along every sidewalk in town. Despite the progress, Jody Adams still sees a void that she hopes her Mediterranean-focused Porto can fill when it opens next to Saks Fifth Avenue in the Back Bay in July.
Located on the ground floor of the Avalon apartment building, Porto’s 50-seat patio is elevated above the Ring Road sidewalk. Planters will provide a little extra privacy for customers while they eat at the patio tables, relax in the white-cushioned lounge seats or sidle up to the marble bar.
“There aren’t very many active, outdoor bars in the city,” Adams says. “We’re expecting this will be a happening place.”
The 125-seat interior features a few different spaces: There’s a bar with hightop communal tables near the entrance, while the back has a more private dining area with wooden tables and leather banquettes. Lots of light-toned wood, a marble bar sourced from the Mediterranean and plenty of windows lend Porto an airy feel that is expected to complement its menu.
Chef de cuisine Jon Sanchez is leading the kitchen, which will focus on sharable plates with a heavy emphasis on seafood and plenty of vegetables. Dishes piquing Sanchez’s interest include clams with guanciale, fennel, white wine, garlic, tons of herbs and housemade bread as well as a lobster raviolo that features curry leaves, sea urchin and English peas. Whole fish, roasted and fried, will be available, as will a seafood board with 10-12 items like a spicy clam salad, pickled mussels with aioli and octopus terrine. The Mediterranean emphasis carries over to the bar: Mastika, a Greek liqueur, pops up in cocktails, and the wine list offers bottles from all across the region. Lunch and brunch will also be served, with Sanchez keen on brunch dishes such as chickpea pancakes with cherry, sea salt and maple butter as well as sticky buns with duck confit.
“You won’t see a lot of molecular gastronomy. It’s just going to be clean, straightforward, thoughtful plates,” Sanchez says. “There’s going to be lots of vegetables and herbs and citrus.”
It’s a flavor profile that’s gripping the Boston dining scene, but Adams dismisses any notion that she’s following the Mediterranean trend. Sure, she’s set to open Porto a few months after she opened Saloniki, a fast-casual Greek spot in Fenway. But for Adams, it’s not a trend. It’s just the food she likes.
“That’s the culinary world I’ve always been in. Rialto was Italian, and before that it was Mediterranean. Trade is Mediterranean,” Adams says. “Mediterranean is where it’s at.”
Porto 780 Boylston St., Boston