A Fenway restaurant group led by restaurateurs Tiffani Faison and Kelly Walsh welcomes a new addition this week: Orfano (1391 Boylston St.) opens Monday, August 26, at 5 p.m., filling the Fenway neighborhood with Faison’s take on Italian-American dishes.
The fourth member of the Big Heart Hospitality family, Orfano is a bit of a return to roots for Faison, who steered the menu at Rocca Kitchen & Bar in Boston’s South End before it closed in 2011 and Faison went on to open her first Fenway restaurant, Sweet Cheeks, which cemented a spot in Fenway as it stood on the precipice of massive development. Southeast Asia-inspired restaurant Tiger Mama joined the group in 2015, with standing-room-only “adult snack bar” Fool’s Errand following suit in August of 2018.
Orfano will be an upscale addition to Big Heart Hospitality, operating with a bit of a rebellious mindset — dishes will reflect Faison’s creative edge while still giving a nod to the roots of Italian-American cooking. Pastas are made in-house, with dishes like cacio e pepe ravioli and fusilli alla vodka with Calabrian chili and parmesan cheese on the opening menu alongside roasted meats like prime rib and pork chops.
Seasonal selections include tuna carpaccio with sliced olives, lemon puree, and vermouth, along with chopped clams served with peperonata, garlic, herbs, and toasted breadcrumbs. There will also be warm mozzarella and “Nonna’s garlic bread,” served in a paper bag, and pastry chef Dee Steffen Chinn is prepared to serve cannoli smothered in powdered sugar.
Martinis — a favorite of Faison — figure prominently on the beverage menu at Orfano, with variations from beverage director Brian Callahan served table-side from a mobile bar cart. Michele Carter (previously of Barbara Lynch’s Gruppo) will serve as Orfano’s creative culinary director, while Nicole Valva takes the role of general manager, and Charlie Gaeta serves as wine director.
The restaurant itself features grand design elements, with chevron flooring, velvet banquette upholstery, mahogany paneling, and modern gold chandeliers, with portraits of various famous women lining the walls (look out for a Sophia Loren collage on the ceiling in a section of the restaurant). Orfano accommodates 96, with bar, dining room, and cafe seating. It will initially operate for dinner only, Sunday to Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. 11 p.m. Lunch service will begin this fall.