Tim and Nancy Cushman, the team behind Leather District sushi destination O Ya and Fenway izakaya Hojoko, were set to open a brand new restaurant duo in Chestnut Hill on March 19: Bianca, a neighborhood restaurant serving “cosmic continental” cuisine, as Tim Cushman told Eater several days before the planned opening, and a takeout counter within Bianca, Mr. Roni Cups, focusing on Roman-style pizza al taglio. The restaurants had been in the works since late 2018.
Of course, Massachusetts restaurants shut down on March 17, except for takeout and delivery, to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and the initial three-week shutdown stretched three months. The openings would have to wait.
Mr. Roni Cups finally opens its doors this week, August 20, at the Street Chestnut Hill (47 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill), and Bianca will follow in the near future. Stay tuned for more details on Bianca and what exactly “cosmic continental” cuisine is (hint: a family-friendly mix of a little bit of everything in a “California Art Deco” ambiance); in the meantime, read on for a preview of what to expect at Mr. Roni Cups.
When Bianca ultimately opens, it will have wood-fired pizza on the menu, but Mr. Roni Cups features Roman square slices made in a Moretti Forni oven, cut by scissors, and available for takeout and delivery, as well as some indoor and outdoor seating. (Diners can also get half pans and full pans.) The namesake “roni cups” pizza features an alternating pattern of Ezzo and Molinari pepperonis, with the former curling up into the aforementioned cups.
But Mr. Roni Cups’ opening menu — see below — isn’t limited to pizza: It’ll also include some dishes that will be on the Bianca menu, as well as wood-fired rotisserie chicken, cocktails, and more. Sushi rolls and crispy nori sushi tacos will make an appearance; diners may recognize those from one of the Cushmans’ casual endeavors, Gogo Ya, which was one of the original Time Out Market Boston vendors when the food hall opened in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood last summer. Gogo Ya’s menu drew inspiration from big siblings O Ya and Hojoko.
Mr. Roni Cups is the result of obsessive pizza study on the part of the Cushmans. Tim Cushman — who got his first taste of Roman pizza on his first trip to Italy back in 1989 — recently spent time with his team, training with Massimiliano Saieva of the Roman Pizza Academy in Miami and staging with Luigi Roditis of Il Romanista in Los Angeles. Tim Cushman’s resulting pizza is meant to be a fairly traditional rendition of Roman-style al taglio, he tells Eater, although a strict version of the style would be a bit more focaccia-like, with a light topping. Tim Cushman’s dough goes a little bit less deep and bready to strike a slightly different balance with the topping. For the sake of efficiency, the team is measuring and cutting the pizza with scissors when it comes out of the oven, as opposed to what you might see in a Roman pizza shop, where each slice is cut and weighed to order.
Tim Cushman is using a mix of two flours for the pizza dough — an Italian flour, Pivetti, specifically made for this style of pizza, and a bit of local wheat flour, which he says gives it “just a subtle slight textural thing and additional flavor.” After a 48-hour fermentation, the end result is meant to be an airy, light, easy-to-digest dough.
Mr. Roni Cups is the kind of place where a diner can drop five bucks on an ample slice of Roman-style pizza; $70 on a family-style meal for four with a half pan of pizza, Caesar salad, and carrot cake; or — for those feeling really fancy — a bit over $300 for a half pan of mushroom and shaved black truffle pizza with a bottle of 2011 La Gerla Brunella di Montalcino “Riserva Gli Angeli.”
Diners staying for outdoor or indoor seating will be able to place no-contact orders by scanning a barcode; servers will deliver the food to the table. Online reservations will be available starting next week. Online ordering is available for takeout and delivery orders.
To start, Mr. Roni Cups is open from 5 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday and noon to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Here’s the full opening menu: