PURITAN & CO., INMAN SQUARE
Chef Will Gilson is standing amidst small piles of rubble with a grin on his face. "We just found out that this corner of the floor doesn't have anything supporting it," he says, pointing to a gaping hole that gives a view to the basement and a bearded worker's bobbing head. Wine glasses, dishware samples, and chairs coated in a soft sheen of sawdust are littered throughout the space that will magically turn into Gilson's "clean slate," as he calls it — Puritan & Co. — in just a few weeks. It's a fitting name for the first restaurant concept from the former Garden at the Cellar chef and pop-up impresario. A century ago, the property housed Puritan Cake Co.; now Gilson is aiming for modern, elevated takes on traditionally simple New England dishes. And don't knock the tightly wound and buckled Puritans of his heritage (his family has been here since the 17th century). "The Puritans just wanted to pioneer a new world, and a new style," he says. "That's really what we're trying to do." Among the New England bounty to be had, keep an eye out for stuffed quahog, composed charcuterie plates, and a fully stocked oyster bar.
ASTA, BACK BAY
If Alex Crabb's résumé is any indication — Noma, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, L'Espalier, Atwood's Tavern, Lineage . . . need we go on? — we'd say Asta is bound for a few mind-blowing things of its own. Word is Crabb has tossed the à la carte menu, striking out with a few prix-fixe options instead: three courses for the gentle-hearted patrons and five or eight courses for the culinarily ferocious. The whole squid with black chickpeas should be nothing less than swoon-worthy.
BRONWYN, UNION SQUARE
Bronwyn, named for chef Tim Wiechmann's wife (who co-owns and runs T.W. Food), has all of Union Square — hell, along with the rest of the city — trembling in anticipation of the best-sounding sausage tasting menus this side of the Atlantic. Good luck trying to decide what to go for; between the honey-lavender boudin blanc and the beef sauerbraten with gingerbread sauce, we're already throwing in the towel.
CENTRE STREET SANCTUARY, JAMAICA PLAIN
Maybe it's our sacrilegious streak, but we can't wait for this "neighborhood-friendly American bistro" to hit the former home of the Blessed Sacrament campus. The 80-seat spot is capitalizing on its storied site: expect furniture built from repurposed pews and a cozy bar with stained-glass windows. Divided into "In the Beginning" (appetizers), "Selections" (entrees), "Creations" (specials), and "Temptations" (desserts), the menu is designed with various dietary needs in mind — so you can have your herb-roasted chicken with customized sauces and sides. Gluten- and lactose-challenged brethren, rejoice!
CINQUECENTO, SOUTH END
The Aquitaine Group is further expanding its South End empire, turning from bistro and brasserie plates to Roman trattoria fare for its eighth (!) outpost. The name (pronounced cheen-kway-chen-toe — thanks, MC Slim) is Italian for "500," a nod to its location. It's in the former home of Rocca, the Italian spot that sputtered and shuttered in late 2010; with this team's track record, we have high hopes for this time around.
Lots of local spots have siblings due this fall. Food-truck fave Bon Me is getting a brick-and-mortar in One Kendall Square. Fenway's Tasty Burger has two new outposts on the way, a larger location at 40 JFK Street in Harvard Square (complete with pool tables) and a take-out spot at 69-71 L Street in Southie. And Downtown Crossing's jm Curley is getting a conjoined twin of sorts: Bogie's Place, a 1920s-style steakhouse hidden inside the existing location at 25 Temple Place.