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Hojoko will open at the Verb Hotel, the renovated former Howard Johnson Hotel located near Fenway Park. The restaurant, which will take the form of a Japanese izakaya (pub), is the brainchild of Tim and Nancy Cushman from o ya. Hojoko, The Verb Hotel, 1271 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02215, 617-566-4500.
Shepard has taken over the former Chez Henri space in Porter Square. The restaurant is brought to us by Rene Becker of Hi-Rise Bread Company and Susan Regis of Upstairs on the Square fame. Here, they have transformed the former French restaurant into a French-inspired spot that offers dishes like grilled littlenecks, lamb leg and, of course, soon-to-be-infamous grilled donuts with housemade coffee ice cream. Dinner nightly. Shepard, 1 Shepard St., Cambridge, MA 02138, 617-714-5295.
underFIRE bar is now open underneath Fire + Ice in the Park Square Building, bringing a new loungy concept to the subterranean space. Here, you can snack on Peruvian-style club tacos made with braised pork belly and grilled chicken topped with a jalapeño garlic aïoli, spicy buffalo calamari or a chicken and gorgonzola quesadilla to share. Try a fun cocktail like the Bikini Bottom made with Malibu rum and Tanqueray gin, or share a Fire Bowl made with Absolut Pears, Mandarin and Apeach. There is also a build-your-own burger menu that features all of the traditional toppings and some cool finds like Sriracha mayo, pork belly, chimichurri and pico de gallo. Lunch & Dinner daily. underFIRE bar, 205 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116, 617-482-3473.
The Varano Group has transformed the former Whiskey Park space at The Boston Park Plaza Hotel into a modern steakhouse and sexy lounge. STRIP by Strega features all things steakhouse (think filet, dry-aged rib-eyes and bone-in Delmonicos), along with some Italian specialties like veal Bolognese and pork chop Milanese. Lunch & Dinner daily. STRIP by Strega, 64 Arlington St., Boston, MA 02116, 617-456-5300.
Mario Batali has finally come to Boston, and we couldn't be happier. The long-awaited Babbo Pizzeria --- brought to us by the famous New York chef --- has opened at the Seaport District's Fan Pier. The menu focuses on Italian favorites like ricotta calzones, meatball pizzas and spaghetti carbonara with pancetta, as well as some unique finds like crispy duck leg agrodolce, oxtail gnocchi and sweet pea agnolotti. Babbo Pizzeria, 11 Fan Pier Blvd., Boston, MA 02210, 617-421-4466.
Sterling Group Management (the group behind Bastille Kitchen) have opened Serafina Boston in the former Radius space in the Financial District. The focus is on Italian fare. Serafina Boston, 10 High St., Boston, MA 02110, 617-426-1234.

News Bytes

The Barking Crab Opens a 40-seat Outdoor Patio
New this year, The Barking Crab has expanded to offer a 40-seat patio that has an outdoor heating system to keep waterfront diners warm. In its 21st year, the restaurant has also undergone a refresh with new exterior signage and tent, along with a freshly painted interior. The Barking Crab, 88 Sleeper St., Boston, MA 02210, 617-426-2722.
Beat Hotel Adds Wines from Oregon's Fausse Piste Winery to its On-tap Collection
Beat Hotel has a rotating collection that includes 35 to 50 wines on tap at any given time, and now, they've added selections from Oregon's Fausse Piste Winery. The new reds and whites include Fausse Piste “Marilyn” Viognier 2014 and Fausse Piste “Tribute Cuvèe One” 2012. They are available by the glass, carafe or a tasting. Beat Hotel, 13 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138, 617-499-0001.
Plan a Picnic-style Lunch in the Park with Help from The Beacon Hill Bistro
Everyone in Boston knows dining al fresco is one of the best things to do once the weather heats up, and no one knows that better than the folks at The Beacon Hill Bistro. Their new picnic in the park menu allows diners to call the restaurant an hour prior to arrival to order up picnic-perfect to-go fare like baked croque madame, steak frites, duck confit tagliatelle or a Connecticut-style crab roll made with butter and lemon. They'll even provide a picnic basket and blanket to spread out at the nearby Public Garden. An ID is required for a deposit until the basket and blanket are returned. Picnic service is available weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner. The Beacon Hill Bistro, The Beacon Hill Hotel, 25 Charles St., Boston, MA 02114, 617-723-7575.
The Palm Introduces Daily Three-course "Power Dinners"
The Palm has introduced a daily three-course "Power Dinner." The menu here includes starters like beer-steamed PEI mussels or a shredded kale salad and main entrées such as pan-seared Atlantic salmon filet or a nine-ounce filet mignon and Nova Scotia lobster Oscar. For dessert, choose between a flourless chocolate cake with raspberry sauce or a salted caramel vanilla crunch cake. The Power Dinner is availalble weekdays from 3 p.m.-7 p.m., Saturdays from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. and Sundays from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. for $49 per person. The Palm, One International Place, Boston, MA 02110, 617-867-9292.
Pop-up Akinto Dining Program at Wink & Nod
Wink & Nod hosts a pop-up Akinto dining program featuring a special menu prepared by executive chef Patrick Enage. Available Monday through Saturday, sample Asian street food dishes from India, Singapore, Thailand, India, Vietnam, China, Japan and Laos. Meals are broken down into small plates like traditional shrimp bao buns, medium plates (think vegetable-pineapple fried rice) and large plates like Korean-style beef short rib with coconut glaze. Wink & Nod, 3 Appleton St., Boston, MA 02116, 617-482-0117.
Bar Boulud Celebrates Red Sox Home Games with Decadent Hot Dogs
Bar Boulud celebrates every Red Sox home game this season with a decadent hot dog offering. Try the housemade DB (Daniel Boulud) dog with French mustard paired up with a beer for $12.50 or the Alsace Dog topped with sauerkraut, pig head bacon, crispy shallots and a beer for $18. Bar Boulud, Mandarin Oriental, Boston, 776 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02199, 617-535-8800.
The Battery Wharf Hotel Hosts Year-Round Firepit Snacking on the Terrace
Looking for something a little different than bistro dining at the Battery Wharf Hotel? Firepit snacks on the terrace include gourmet s'mores with marshmallows, crispy graham crackers and a choice of gooey chocolate, creamy peanut butter cups or fresh sliced bananas. Savory options include a Vermont cheddar fondue spiked with hard apple cider accompanied by a platter of seaonal vegetables, dried fruits and crusty ciabatta bread or an artisinal salumi plate of venison sausage and wild boar prosciutto. The firepits are open nightly with seatings at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. Reservations are recommended by calling 617-994-9000. Aragosta Bar and Bistro, Battery Wharf Hotel, 3 Battery Wharf, Boston, MA 02109, 617-994-9001.
Bronwyn Hosts Prototype Tuesday Nights Featuring Chef Tim Wiechmann's Creative Experiments
Chef Tim Wiechmann is at it again, showing off his creativity with prototype Tuesday nights at Bronwyn. Each dinner, which can be paired with regional wines, spirits and beers, is based on a theme related to Germany and the Central/Eastern Europe region. Some dishes to be featured are Serbian steak, Polish charcuterie board, Transylvanian lamb meatballs and Serbian hamburger. Prices vary each week. Bronwyn, 255 Washington St., Somerville, MA 02143, 617-776-9900.
Bistro du Midi Launches New Brunch Service
Chef Robert Sisca of Bistro du Midi has launched a new brunch service on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with an entirely different menu and the ability to make reservations directly through the restaurant's website. The seasonal menu will include dishes like lemon buttermilk pancakes, trumpet royale mushroom omelet and grilled flat iron steak with poached egg, not to mention a signature Bouillabaisse Bloody Mary topped with a jumbo prawn. Be sure to request a seat upstairs for a beautiful view overlooking Boston Common. Bistro du Midi, 272 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116, 617-426-7878.

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Chef Shuffle

Joseph Adamo is now the executive chef at Aragosta Bar + Bistro, serving up New England dishes with a Mediterranean twist (think veal polpette or Georges Bank scallops with chorizo and corn purée). The cocktails here are worthy of mention, too: Try the Nantucket blueberry lemonade or spiced watermelon daiquiri al fresco overlooking Boston Harbor. Aragosta Bar + Bistro, Battery Wharf Hotel, 3 Battery Wharf, Boston, MA 02109, 617-994-9001.
Mary Dumont has left Harvest as executive chef Mary Dumont has left Harvest as executive chef to pursue her personal dream of owning her own restaurant. Stepping into her shoes is Tyler Kinnett, who has just been promoted to executive chef after working at Harvest as a sous chef for the past three years. A New England Culinary Institute grad who has worked in kitchens in Boston and beyond, Kinnett will helm Harvest as the restaurant prepares to celebrates its 40th anniversary. Harvest, 44 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138, 617-868-2255.
The Regal Beagle's Stacy Cogswell has moved over to Liquid Art House, working under executive chef Rachel Klein. Liquid Art House, 100 Arlington St., Boston, MA 02116, 617-457-8130.


Take your taste buds on a walk down memory lane! Check out our exclusive closed restaurant database for Boston to virtually visit your favorite dining spots from the past. The Federalist, R.I.P.

Chef/owner Michael Schlow closed Via Matta's Italian doors at the end of May and will be reopening them in the fall of 2015 with a Greek transformation known as Doretta Tavern. The menu will feature homemade flatbreads, small plates, grilled seafood and slow-roasted meats. Via Matta, 79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116, no phone.
Petit Robert Bistro has closed and will re-open with a new owner and new name (Josephine). The new "Parisian-style restaurant" in Kenmore Square is owned by Samuel Gosselin, who will transform the former traditional French spot into a modern day bistro with a unique twist on French fare. Petit Robert Bistro, 468 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215, no phone. is an invitation-only site featuring the area’s top chefs and their cuisine via a portfolio of color photos of the chef’s signature dishes, a chef bio and picture, restaurant menus etc. Check out e-licious, their semi-monthly email newsletter. They also feature lots of restaurant job postings!

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Check out the 2015 edition of GAYOT's Annual Restaurant Issue, which features the Top 40 Restaurants in the US and more.

AMERICA'S BEST BRUNCHESGAYOT has rounded up the Top 10 Brunch Restaurants in the U.S., including lavish buffets and a fun bingo brunch.