Eater caught up with Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette (Coppa, Toro) at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen earlier this week to learn about their brand new location of Toro, now open in Bangkok. They also spilled some details on Little Donkey, their much-anticipated opening in Cambridge’s Central Square. Update: As of July 8, the opening date is slated for July 18.
There are 10 things you need to know:
- It will be open all day. "Part of our goal [in serving] breakfast, lunch, and dinner — we want the food to be approachable and fun and interesting," said Bissonnette. "So people can come four or five times a week. Maybe someone from the neighborhood comes every morning and reads the newspaper on their computer, sitting at the bar and having coffee or a breakfast sandwich. We just want it to be a utility restaurant for people in the area to come in any time they want and to have fun."
- Don’t expect cuisine that reflects one specific region. "We can finally cook food without any rules," said Oringer. "It has to be Italian-esque for Coppa; it has to be Spanish-style for Toro. [At Little Donkey] it can be simply anything, because we talk ideas non-stop, 24 hours a day. We have all of these ideas, so now we can put them all into fruition. As crazy as they all are, we can still put them together in that type of restaurant."
- Cambridge is the perfect spot for such a wide-ranging menu. "MIT, Harvard, all the different schools, so much different culture — we know that there will be a person who will appreciate everything from a biryani to a chow fun noodle to a curry to a flauta," said Bissonnette. "We could just cook all those kinds of things and find someone to connect with it."
- While the menu will be quite varied, it’ll also be on the small side. "We’re running kind of a smaller menu, which for us is, like, 25 items," said Oringer. "We like big menus, but [with a smaller menu] we’ll be able to change a lot of things daily. Like, he just mentioned flautas, which aren’t on our opening menu. But I was like ‘Shit, it would be great to have a flauta.’ Maybe not the first day but the third day."
- There will be nachos. "They’re going to be bold," said Bissonnette. "There’s going to be a nacho plate where each individual chip will be done. We don’t want to say ‘perfect’ since neither one of us is the kind of person to say ‘perfect,’ but the perfect nacho is when you have one chip that has every little thing on it. So we’re going to plate it that way, where every chip has every little thing on it."
- There will be a raw bar. "We’re both the biggest raw bar fanatics on Earth," Oringer said. "We’re going to up our game a little bit, having ceviche chilled and live sea urchin shucked to order and having live scallops and five kinds of crab and all that kind of stuff."
- Little Donkey draws some inspiration from New York. When Bissonnette and Oringer were opening Toro New York, they loved being able to get breakfast at restaurants that weren’t in hotels. "It’s my favorite meal," said Bissonnette. "I love getting up early and having breakfast. In Boston, there are plenty of places, but they are either diners or to-go places, or they’re in hotels." They decided that an all-day restaurant would be a good fit for the area.
- But Boston is home. Even with Toro expansions in New York City and Bangkok, Bissonnette and Oringer aren’t going anywhere. "We live in Boston, and that’s our home and something that we love," said Bissonnette. "We haven’t opened up a restaurant in Boston for almost seven years," added Oringer. "Yeah, it’s time. Again, our roots are in Boston; it’s where my kids and wife are. We want to keep deep, deep roots there because it’s a city that we both love very much and feel so connected with."
- It’s almost time. Little Donkey’s debut could be within the next three weeks, pending inspections. (Update, 7/8/16: The opening is scheduled for 7/18/16.)
- Stay up-to-date. The restaurant’s web presence is up and running; keep an eye on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for updates.
These quotes were taken from an interview conducted by Eater senior reports editor Hillary Dixler.