The Pine Bar opens at Boston Public Market on June 16, leveling up the downtown destination to allow tourists and locals to sip New England beers and wines, as well as cocktails featuring local liquors, while browsing the market or relaxing on the patio outside.
When the Boston Public Market opened in downtown Boston in 2015, it was the culmination of around 15 years of work, a dream of a central, hyperlocal marketplace showing the best of New England’s produce, meats, cheeses, artisanal food products, prepared foods, and such. It has offered all of that and more over the years — including retail beer, cider, and liquor sales — but it was missing one thing that other public markets around the country offer: on-site alcohol consumption.
“We have been talking about trying to bring a bar in here for six years,” says Boston Public Market CEO Cheryl Cronin. “It really has been six years of figuring out how we can handle the licensing and everything, but we knew it was critical to help make the market a true destination.”
Local restaurateur Philip Frattaroli — whose company the Filmark Hospitality Group is behind restaurants in Boston’s North End (Lucia, Ducali, and more) as well as East Boston’s Cunard Tavern — had just come back from a wedding in Denver where he enjoyed mimosas on a Sunday morning at Denver’s public market when he saw Boston Public Market’s request for bar proposals, and everything fell into place.
There were several strong proposals, says Cronin, but the market team admired Frattaroli’s experience in the industry and the North End connections running through his idea. (The historic neighborhood is steps away from the market, just across the Greenway.)
The most visible connection to the North End? The Pine Bar’s main neon sign is a direct homage to the neighborhood’s defunct restaurant the European, which was open from 1917 to the late 1990s. (The Pine Bar’s neon signs were created by Neon Williams, aka Dave Waller, the neon artist and preservationist behind pretty much every neon restaurant sign you’ve seen in Greater Boston. Waller also has the original European sign in his collection.)
“It was the first Italian restaurant not only in the North End but Boston,” says Frattaroli. “It opened back when you couldn’t even put an Italian word on a sign; it was called the European because that was what was acceptable to people. The history is something that’s important to me, and the sign was a piece of art, hanging above Hanover Street for 80 years. We thought it’d be a good idea to bring some of that mojo over here.”
Aside from the very local neighborhood connection, the Pine Bar is — like Boston Public Market as a whole — focused on highlighting the best of New England, from small liquor brands around the region to dairy, juices, and other ingredients coming right from other market vendors. That means the menu will rotate a lot depending on the season, says head bartender Joe Camiolo, who came over from sibling spot Cunard Tavern to run the Pine Bar. He’s excited to draw inspiration from the other vendors, whether that means perusing the selection at Q’s Nuts right across the way to find a new ingredient or smelling Red Apple Farm’s fresh cider doughnuts when he enters the market.
Camiolo says he can’t wait to showcase “the little [liquor] brands, giving them exposure in the middle of Boston.” Salem’s Deacon Giles Distillery, Nantucket’s Triple Eight Distillery, and North Truro’s South Hollow Distillery are among those represented on the opening menu.
The best part, though? “Bartending in Boston and not serving food?” says Camiolo. “The dream. I can just focus on the bar and do cocktails. I want to go with the flow, be open-minded with all the different vendors.”
The market vendors are incredibly excited to collaborate, says Cronin. There’s George Howell espresso in the espresso martini; there could be Crescent Ridge boozy milkshakes down the line. The possibilities are endless at the Pine Bar, and its debut feels like a triumph for Boston Public Market as it bounces back from two-plus difficult years as the pandemic turned downtown Boston into a ghost town.
The tourists are back, the local office workers are coming back, and now they can all have a drink while buying their New England goods.
The Pine Bar is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Customers can sit at the bar (and are welcome to bring food over from any Boston Public Market vendor) or on the outdoor patio, or they can browse the market with a drink in hand.