While debriefing on Alden & Harlow's first year in business, chef/owner Michael Scelfo also provided some details on his next venture, Naco — a taqueria in Central Square. As reported back in late October, the new restaurant will be located in the former Lotte Market space in Cambridge (297 Massachusetts Ave.) (Prior to that, it was a car dealership.) In addition to Scelfo, the Speakeasy Group's Alex Tannenbaum and Brian Lesser are also involved.
"We're in the permitting phase," Scelfo tells Eater, "and we're excited about what's going to happen there. I love Central Square, I think it’s an exciting neighborhood, and I love the location that we’re going to be at. I think when people see what we do with the space, they’re going to get really excited. It’s definitely not a traditional vibe in terms of a taqueria, but it’s definitely going to have nods to what you’d expect flavor profile-wise, just a different ingredient set."
The opportunity was presented to Scelfo, and how could he resist the call of tacos? "It's something that I really like to cook at home," he says. "If you ever caught me on a day off, or if I have the ability to crush a snack, it's that kind of food. Pupusas in Eastie, tacos in Watertown, something like that. When I’m at home and trying to eat healthy, I like that style of cooking because it just lends itself to healthy eating, so that’s always been kind of fun. And I spent a good portion of my life growing up on the West Coast, and I remember just being blown away by the quality of good tacos."
In general, Scelfo seems to be a fan of restaurants focused on a single item. "I'm obsessed with pizza," he says. "I hope there is a point in my life when I can just do pizza. And I would love to be able to just mess around in different areas. I'd also love to have a place that just does sandwiches. I love the idea of doing my take on what I give a shit about in terms of those types of cuisines and those types of fun things to eat."
As for his upcoming taco palace, it'll have both quick-service and table-service options. "You'll be able to approach, weather-permitting, from the outside and grab something to go," he says. "I don't want to give too much away about the way it looks, because it's got a really unique kind of component to it, but it has a big patio component that can handle about 100 people. It's definitely going to have a nice outdoor vibe to it. It’s this really kind of cool triangle lot, and the building’s L-shaped, and inside the building is this amazing brick and beam structure that you really just don’t want to do anything to; it just looks awesome the way it is. We’re going to build a bar, we’ve got a unique kitchen concept coming to it, and we’re just going to play some good music, not mess with it too much, and just have some fun doing some good casual food."
Scelfo doesn't want to reveal a potential opening timeline for Naco at this point in the process. "One thing I’ve learned doing Alden," he says, "is don’t tell people when you’re going to open, because you're probably going to be six, seven months behind. I feel for people who are going through that right now."
In addition to Naco, Scelfo has something else up his sleeve, but he's not saying much just yet. "There's definitely another thing in the works I'm pretty excited about," he says. "I can't really reveal any details about that at all, but there's definitely another big project that we'll hopefully be able to move forward on at some point, but these things take time. Shaping up to be an exciting year for sure."
2015: snow, tacos, and excitement.