Anthony Caturano, chef/owner of upscale Italian restaurant Prezza in the North End, is opening a "coastal Italian seafood concept" in the former Blackburn Tavern space in Gloucester (2 Main St.) in spring 2016, he announced yesterday. Tonno is Italian for "tuna" — and also the name of his fishing boat, which is docked at Gloucester Harbor. Caturano is an avid fisherman as well as a big game hunter.
The old Blackburn Tavern space will get a complete makeover, according to a press release. When Tonno opens, it'll span 4,000 square feet and include a dining room, a cocktail bar, a lounge (with a fireplace), and a raw bar. There will also be a room for private events. Overall, the restaurant will seat 99, and there will be "partial ocean views."
While the concept is Italian, the seafood will be fresh from New England. A few sample dishes, according to the release: roasted cod oreganata, cioppino, octopus salad, roasted whole brazino, "hyper-local" oyster varieties. For beverages, expect "classic Italian cocktails," beer, and about 150 wines, mainly Italian.
Tonno's big sibling Prezza is 15 years old this year. The popular North End restaurant pays homage to Caturano's grandmother's hometown, a tiny mountain village in the Abruzzi region of Italy where food staples included polenta and pork. Prezza showcases Caturano's love of game — the current menu includes dishes like venison loin and wood-grilled quail, along with plenty of hearty pasta dishes and other meats.