A corner of Boston’s West End tucked between the Zakim and Charlestown bridges is home to a new restaurant from a longtime industry veteran: Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli debuts his first restaurant as an owner, Alcove, on Wednesday, October 17, at 5 p.m. The restaurant is located at 50 Lovejoy Wharf, at the Lovejoy Wharf condominium building, with a menu heavy on vegetables, seafood, and seasonal ingredients.
“It’s been sort of a long process to get here, and we have an awesome team in place,” he told Eater a few days before the opening. (The project was first announced just over a year ago.) “The neighborhood just has an electric energy to it.”
Located on the water, right by TD Garden, overlooking the river locks and two bridges, Alcove draws upon its surroundings for its design, featuring concrete, limestone, copper, and steel.
“The space itself from an architectural standpoint is loosely based off the materials you’d find in the back of a distillery or a winery or a farm,” Schlesinger-Guidelli said. Meanwhile, “from a graphics perspective, we wanted to take different pieces of the neighborhood and weave that into what we were pulling from architecturally.”
Schlesinger-Guidelli said he discovered old photos of the wharf and used those, along with the surrounding bridges, as influences for the logo for the restaurant.
“It’s really meant to be this meeting point of the location of this alcove of the city, if you will, that I don’t think a lot of people are familiar with,” he said.
To reach the restaurant, diners pass through a three-story-high breezeway of limestone, ending up in what Schlesinger-Guidelli described as a surreal space.
“As I leave the space at night and realize how amazing the architecture of the Zakim Bridge is, I just feel very lucky to have encountered this piece of land,” he said.
Schlesinger-Guidelli is no stranger to the Boston restaurant world: He spent years working in the restaurants of his uncle Chris Schlesinger, the founder of East Coast Grill, including summers at Schlesinger’s Westport restaurant, Back Eddy.
Later, Schlesinger-Guidelli served five years as general manager of Island Creek Oyster Bar, in addition to time spent at sister restaurant Eastern Standard, plus Craigie on Main. He also consulted with Tracy Chang for the opening of her Cambridge restaurant, Pagu.
For Alcove, Schlesinger-Guidelli is building upon his time at Back Eddy, in particular. It’s located on the southern Massachusetts “farm coast,” which he described as a robust agricultural region. There are farming communities, fishing communities, and wineries, and Alcove’s menu will draw upon all three.
Diners will find the opening menu heavy on vegetables, with a bend toward seafood, but, as Schlesinger-Guidelli said, “nowhere near as dramatic as my history.” Alcove pulls in strategically sourced meat for its charcuterie, and there are raw bar items as well.
After the charcuterie, raw bar, and cheeses, the menu moves into snacks like beef carpaccio and Brussels sprouts that fit a traditional appetizer size. Main courses include a roasted half chicken, seafood dishes, and charred maitake mushrooms. Schlesinger-Guidelli said the menu gives Alcove a chance “to highlight incredible farmers through simply executed dishes.”
“We designed the menu to be the kind of place where if you want to come in and have a burger and a beer for $20 bucks on a Tuesday night, you could do that,” he said. But, there’s also room to have a special-occasion meal with multiple courses.
“There’s intentional versatility to the menu because I love places that feel like home,” he said. “It’s intended to be able to offer a diversity of experiences. I don’t think that people dine in one particular way anymore.”
Schlesinger-Guidelli said he sees his restaurant as an opportunity to appeal to people’s diverse interests through thoughtful menu design, where not every item has to be in the same vein.
Alcove’s staff includes chef Maxime Fanton (Restaurant Martiń), general manager Brendan Collins (Island Creek Oyster Bar) and executive sous chef Brian Paszko (Cultivar), along with pastry chef Alexandra Artinian (Oleana, Sofra).
“I feel really lucky to have the people I’m working with,” Schlesinger-Guidelli said. “We’re just a little off the beaten path in terms of our exact location. Don’t be shy to seek us out.”
Aside from the food, the menus themselves were meticulously designed to feature layers of detail to give diners all the info they need — without coming down heavy-handed.
The cocktail and spirit menu, for example, is intended to be read like a book, according to Schlesinger-Guidelli. The outside is a deep blue and the paper inside has texture and warmth, he said. The menus are modeled after the design and materials in the restaurant, with very little gloss and mostly matte finishes and texture.
“When we started we knew that the neighborhood and the region was really important to Tom. It’s incredible to have the Zakim Bridge in Alcove’s front yard,” said Drew Katz, the chief creative officer at Marlo Marketing. (Schlesinger-Guidelli worked with the Marlo creative services team on Alcove’s branding and design.) The bridge had a huge influence on the logo and branding of the restaurant, said Katz.
Alcove will ultimately have somewhere between six and 10 menus for various meal services and beverages, and Katz said that he and the design team aimed to lay out the menus almost like a map of Boston, with the larger city in the picture and each neighborhood or region visible: “We laid out the menu in a similar way with smaller distinct sections that kind of create a bigger picture.”
“This sense of neighborhood and community is just so important,” Katz said. “Everything we did in terms of design was sensitive to that idea. How do we take all these disparate pieces and bring it together?”
The team looked at early renderings from the restaurant architects and used similar tones for the menus, including copper, burnt orange, gray tones, and blues.
Alcove is open for dinner from 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with the bar open until 12 a.m. On Friday and Saturday, dinner service runs from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., with the bar open until 1 a.m. Sunday service runs from 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., with the bar open until midnight. Alcove will eventually add lunch and brunch.
For the opening food and beverage menus for Alcove, see below.
• Alcove Boston [Official Site]
• Alcove Coverage on Eater [EBOS]
• Longtime Industry Veteran Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli to Open His Own Place [EBOS]