At Premiere on Broadway, Somerville’s new Italian-American restaurant and music venue, chef Dan Bazzinotti is quietly stuffing the comforting menu with the best imported cheeses and meticulously house-made sausages that he can. Most recently at Eataly, Bazzinotti is still sourcing fancy Italian products and using techniques from a high-end playbook, even if Premiere’s menu comes across as totally unpretentious.
That’s by design: “I could say, ‘That’s pesto pantesco,’” Bazzinotti says, referring to the sauce of yellow tomatoes, capers, and almonds with the tuna tartare, “and everyone would say, ‘What the hell does that mean?’ I wanted to make the menu approachable and fun while still letting us do our heavy cooking in the back.”
And so Premiere is the type of place where you can get a classic red-sauce rigatoni dish — “basically based off my grandmother’s recipe,” says Bazzinotti — with a carefully sourced pecorino Romano and sausage made from scratch. You can come for cocktails, live music, and dancing; snacks like grilled mushrooms, meatballs, and grilled oysters fra diavolo await, all made with excellent cheeses.
“The food here is basically approaching Italian-American cuisine from regional backgrounds,” says Bazzinotti, “like being able to make gnocchi the very traditional, super awesome way, but then to be able to put Peruvian beef hearts on it. To do our sausage, peppers, and onions — and stuff it with DOP Fontina.”
He’s using everything he learned at Eataly, he says, mixed with his own background of eating Italian-American food growing up. Here’s a more in-depth look at a few dishes from the new restaurant’s menu to show what that means.
“Of course we were going to have a salume board here,” says Bazzinotti, but he had to figure out how to differentiate it from the French-style board he used to serve in his days at Bisq and his all-Italian board at Eataly restaurant Terra. At Premiere, the board features the chef’s take on a Slim Jim; the long, skinny pork sausage, which is made and smoked in-house, has a satisfying snap to it. The board also includes other meats and local cheese; Tuscan-style liver mousse; stuffed peppers with speck and provolone; marinated olives; zucchini pickles; and fried pizza dough.
That dough will ideally be the same as what Bazzinotti ends up using at his forthcoming pizzeria next door, Baza Pizzeria, which will take over the Pini’s Pizzeria space once Pini’s moves elsewhere. There’ll be a window between Premiere and Baza to facilitate late-night pizza orders into the former, once regular dinner service ends for the night.
Potato Gnocchi With (Optional) Peruvian Beef Hearts
Those who have followed Bazzinotti’s career are likely familiar with his love of anticuchos, Peruvian-style skewers of grilled meat, often beef hearts. He served the skewers at Bisq, and he added some Italian flavors to them at Terra. It’s no surprise that he’s serving slices of beef heart here, too, as an optional topping to the potato gnocchi dish (which, seasonally, also includes corn and smoked ricotta).
Bazzinotti’s wife is Peruvian, so he has visited the country a lot. The hearts are a typical street food there, he says. “Rather than running to a McDonald’s or something like here, you just go to a corner, and there are a couple kids on the side of the road; just pull up and say how many you want.” Grilled over charcoal, Peruvian beef hearts get their signature flavor from the oil flaring up around them.
Bazzinotti first put gnocchi and hearts together during a collaborative Peruvian-Italian dinner with chef Jose Duarte, owner of Peruvian restaurant Tambo 22 in Chelsea and the now-defunct Peruvian-Italian Taranta in Boston’s North End, so it was a natural pairing for the Premiere menu.
Intimidated by heart? If you like steak, you’ll like it, says Bazzinotti. Just be sure to eat it quickly; it’s best when hot.
Sausage With Peppers and Onions
“I’ve been making sausages since 2008,” says Bazzinotti, noting the fun of serving a dish reminiscent of a day at Fenway Park but stuffing it with a “serious cheese” (Fontina). “That’s a DOP cheese, you know.” The sausage, too, is serious. “We’re getting heritage breed pork,” says Bazzinotti, “the most expensive pork shoulder you could buy. I could buy it cheaper, and it probably still tastes good, but I don’t want to eat it if it doesn’t have good pork in there.”
Like a lot of other dishes on the menu, this one is based on what Bazzinotti enjoys eating himself. “So, so easy to write the menu,” he says. Along the same lines, there’s a burger — two thin patties, American cheese, and sweet garlic mayonnaise (the garlic is cooked down with sweet vermouth.) “[These dishes are] really showcasing simplicity and having fun.”
Heading up the bar is Beehive alum Martin Fernandez, focusing on “seasonal and fresh” cocktails, Fernandez says. “We want it to be something fun and wild for guests. We want the cocktails to put on a show as much as the entertainment and food.”
Fernandez enjoys highlighting spirits in ways that they aren’t traditionally used and is “focus[ing] on alternative flavor profiles that will fit guest expectations while introducing them to something new.” A Bee’s Knees-inspired drink called These Knees, for example, infuses the gin with black tea, while pisco — there’s Peru again — is showcased in a pisco sour-like drink that adds matcha to the mix.
The wine list features smaller producers and lesser-known grape varietals, Fernandez says, and the beer list is a mix of classics and local picks. Bar-goers will find Budweiser and Heineken, for example, alongside IPAs brewed in Waltham, Cambridge, and Framingham. Winter Hill Brewing Company, less than a mile down the road, has a couple selections on the list as well.
Premiere on Broadway is open nightly for dinner, plus brunch on Sunday, with live music most nights. Make reservations and purchase tickets on the website.