Blue Dragon:: 324 A St, Boston :: Ming Tsai, one of Boston's best-known celebrity chefs, will open his second restaurant ever, a more casual, gastropubby take on the refined Asian fusion cuisine that put him on the map at his original Wellesley restaurant, Blue Ginger.
In 2013, Mario Batali will recast his Manhattan enoteca/pizzeria Otto into Babbopizzeria.
Ribelle:: Washington Sq, Brookline :: Arguably the most sensational Boston-area restaurant of the past year was Strip-T's in Watertown, which, after 25 years as a modest diner-like American place, got a food-nerd-friendly reboot when chef Tim Maslow took over the kitchen from his dad. Expect Maslow to generate a new frenzy with the inventive, eclectic fare in a larger, presumably more polished space closer to downtown Boston.
Bondir Two:: 24 Walden St, Concord :: Our favorite fine-dining opening of 2010 was Bondir, which first-time chef/owner Jason Bond debuted in a tiny location in Cambridge's Area Four. This widely acclaimed New American eatery has frustrated many would-be diners with its limited capacity (all of 28 seats), requiring weeks-in-advance reservations. Bond's second location will have closer to 100 seats and a patio, allowing suburbanites far easier access to his dazzling yet unpretentious take on farm-to-table cuisine.
Unnamed Ana Sortun project:: 249 Pearl St, Somerville :: The award-winning chef/owner of Cambridge fine-dining favorite Oleana is working with the team that helped her open bakery/café Sofra to take over the former home of the Paddock. The result should fall somewhere between Oleana and Sofra in concept and price, a modest neighborhood place with a full bar serving mezze and larger plates from around the Mediterranean, centered on Turkish cuisine.
NYC COMES TO BOSTON
Babbopizzeria:: 320 Summer St, Boston :: The inescapable New York powerhouse restaurateur and celebrity chef Mario Batali will recast his Manhattan enoteca/pizzeria Otto into Babbopizzeria, presumably to avoid confusion with the Portland, ME mini-chain Otto that recently opened three outlets in Boston and Cambridge.
Unnamed Geoffrey Zakarian project:: Fort Point, Boston :: The famed food-TV personality and operator of NYC's Lambs Club and others will open a Seaport-area restaurant that his representative compared to the National Bar & Dining Rooms in Manhattan, an American bistro with a glamorous sheen.
Shake Shack:: 55 Boylston St, Chestnut Hill :: Shopping mall the Street will soon welcome Manhattan restaurateur extraordinaire Danny Meyer, who will open an outlet of his rapidly expanding Shake Shack chain of gourmet fast-food joints. These counter-service establishments have earned the fanatical devotion of New Yorkers by preparing and serving modestly priced burgers, hot dogs, and milkshakes with exceptional care. We're not big on chains, and 2012 left us feeling a bit burgered out, but Meyer's reputation — as a great restaurateur, a devoted local sourcer, and a solid citizen of the neighborhoods in which he operates — makes us enthusiastic at the prospect of his Massachusetts debut. If every new restaurant that opens in Greater Boston in the coming year takes its cues from Meyer's famed hospitality playbook, that will make 2013 a very good year for us indeed.
>> BY MC SLIM JB @MCSLIMJB