Stefano Quaresima and Tsedenia Kiros had been searching for a restaurant space to call their own for years. So when the former site of popular breakfast spot Dot 2 Dot (and, more recently, Italian cafe Zia Gianna) became available at 1739 Dorchester Avenue, the married couple saw their opportunity.
“I decided to bet everything on it, and try my chance,” Quaresima says. The bet has resulted in Via Cannuccia, a cheerful little Italian restaurant and bakery that opened in the neighborhood last month, where Quaresima runs the kitchen and Kiros handles the dining room.
The 40-seat restaurant is, in part, an homage to Quaresima’s upbringing in Anzio, a small Italian seaside city just outside of Rome. Via Cannuccia is named after the street that Quaresima grew up on, and where his parents still reside when they’re not in Boston helping their son open a restaurant.
On the menu, Quaresima blends nostalgic childhood favorites with modern techniques he picked up over years of working as a chef in Italy, France, New York (with the swanky Cipriani restaurant group), and Boston (with the restaurant group behind French spots Petit Robert Bistro in the South End and Batifol in Cambridge).
“It’s a trattoria Romana,” Quaresima says. “But with a twist of contemporary cuisine that represents my background.”
The pasta and pizza-centric menu is small and will change regularly, according to the chef. Currently, it includes suppli cacio e pepe, fried rice balls similar to Sicilian arancini, that have already been an early hit among customers. There’s also eggplant parmigiana wrapped in rice paper, which gives the classic Italian dish a crispy-edged finish. And Quaresima is particularly proud of his Roman-style pizza alla pala, a square-ish pie with fluffy, airy dough achieved with high hydration levels and a long fermentation process. “It feels like you’re eating a cloud,” he says.
For those who miss the place’s former life as a breakfast cafe, Via Cannuccia is also selling baked goods and serving a frittata-filled brunch on the weekends. While Quaresima was working in Boston restaurants by day, he took a job as an overnight baker at Eataly to hone his baking skills. His love for the craft is displayed prominently at the restaurant, from the homey dessert crostata to almond croissants, sourdough muffins, and maritozzi, a Pac Man-shaped brioche pastry stuffed with whipped cream and mascarpone.
“I always wanted to achieve my goal, which was open my own little place,” Quaresima, who lives Dorchester’s Ashmont area, says. “I wanted to bring what I love to cook to my neighborhood.”
Via Cannuccia is located at 1739 Dorchester Avenue. It is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. On the weekends, it is open for brunch from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner from 4 to 9 p.m.
Update: May 16, 2023, 5:00 p.m.: This article was updated to include mention of Caffe Zia Gianna, another former business in the space.
The opening dinner menu:
The opening brunch menu: