La Bodega (21 Nichols Ave., Watertown) has been a long time coming, but it’s finally here, sort of. The doors are quietly open this week, and there’s a limited menu available; stay tuned for the full opening in the very near future.
Owners Gabriel Bremer and Analia Verolo were behind the acclaimed Salts in Cambridge, which was open from 2004 to 2014 before being shuttered due to water damage from a burst pipe, and the loss was felt heavily in the neighborhood. In early 2016, the duo announced that they’d open a new restaurant, La Bodega, in the former 21 Nickels space in Watertown.
It wouldn’t be another Salts, which was an upscale restaurant that took its queues from French cuisine. While La Bodega would pay homage to its defunct predecessor — in fact, Bremer said at the time that Salts’s signature whole roasted duck would be on the menu — the new restaurant would also draw upon Verolo’s Uruguayan background, as well as the cuisine of Spain and the French-Basque countryside.
A year later, in early 2017, the duo ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, which raised just over $40,000 to help with the buildout of the restaurant, which is located in a refurbished 1950s dining car. In the campaign, they described La Bodega as a 90-seat restaurant with a full bar and a focus on seasonal, farm-to-table cooking, presented via a menu that features snacks and tapas as well as larger shared dishes, such as the aforementioned duck, which feeds two.
“Salts was known for our style, elegance, and simplicity,” Bremer and Verolo wrote in the Kickstarter campaign. “It created the feeling of walking into a completely new and exciting space which, at the same time, was warm, cozy and familiar. Eating at Salts was like spending a little time in our world, a little time in our home. In our new location we will take this concept to heart even further. You will be a part of our home and our culture.”
They mentioned some sample dishes, such as sea salt roasted Spanish red prawns with griller Meyer lemon and parsley; rabbit croquetas with Serrano ham and “grandma’s white sauce”; and a dry-aged beef ribeye for two with chimichurri, garlic fried potatoes, and butternut squash puree.
Over the past couple of weeks, while still putting some finishing touches in place, Bremer and Verolo quietly began to open the doors to La Bodega to friends, family, and Kickstarter backers. This week, they’re opening the doors a little wider as they continue to finish furnishing the restaurant.
Per an announcement on Facebook, La Bodega is now open Wednesday through Saturday, starting at 6 p.m., with a limited menu, cocktails, and some wines from the Salts cellar. No reservations; just come by, and be patient while things get fully ramped up.