A linchpin of the Allston dining scene is getting new ownership: Carlo’s Cucina Italiana is changing hands, from longtime owner Carlo Barone to longtime employee Bryant Rodriguez. Willy, the restaurant’s longtime chef, will also be part of the new ownership team. (Rodriguez told Eater his partner preferred to be referred to by his first name only because he doesn’t like the limelight.)
The sale hasn’t gone through just yet, Rodriguez said, and the restaurant is waiting on the city for license transfers; he expects that everything will be wrapped up sometime in March.
Carlo’s Cucina Italiana opened more than 40 years ago. It began as a pizza shop before transforming into the sit-down red-sauce Italian destination it is today, and Rodriguez, who has lived in the Allston-Brighton area of Boston for his entire life, told Eater he remembers hanging out inside the restaurant and playing arcade games.
“One day when I was 13, Carlo asked me if I wanted a job,” explained Rodriguez. “I said, ‘sure.’”
Now, 27 years later, Rodriguez is set to own the joint. Carlo approached him because he wanted to sell the restaurant, he said. And it was important he keep Willy in the kitchen.
“Without Willy, there’s no Carlo’s,” said Rodriguez. “That’s what he wants. He built this thing, and he doesn’t want to sell it to someone who’s gonna just come in and change it.”
Rodriguez confirms that he doesn’t plan on changing anything: same food, same personnel, same aesthetic, same hours.
“We want to keep it the same neighborhood mom-and-pop place that’s been there for more than 40 years,” said Rodriguez, so the only thing that’s changing is the ownership. That said, Rodriguez told Eater that he expects periodic visits from the old boss man.
“I expect Carlo to pop in every once and a while,” Rodriguez said with a chuckle.