Seasoned chef Stefano Quaresima gives French classics a unique, tasty touch. (Credit: Derek Kouyoumjian)
It’s an interesting way to see the world— through food. Italian chef Stefano Quaresima recently arrived in Boston to head Petit Robert South End’s kitchen. Before that, he worked in restaurants in Italy, France, the Maldives, Greece and the UK, including Raymond Blanc’s double Michelin starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.
A Boston winter isn’t exactly the warmest welcome, but Quaresima is enthusiastic: “Working in America was always so exciting to me. When this opportunity came up, I jumped at it,” he tells Metro. “Besides, Boston is so beautiful with the snow.” Yeah, try a couple of winters and get back to us.
After his time in France, Quaresima should feel at home at French bistro-styled Petit Robert South End. Split into a cozy bar and slightly more formal dining room, an old brick fireplace is a focal point in the unassuming pink clay and burgundy interior. The twinkling Prudential Tower stands in the near distance. The South End was the Fort Point of the last decade. Now it has settled into being an attractive neighborhood with great food options.
Quaresima does have some restrictions at Petit Robert. After all, this small local chain has a loyal clientele demanding favorites like French onion soup or a hearty plate of boeuf bourguignon with potatoes and rich wine gravy. But he’s not confined to French classics, or even classics. The creamy four-cheese gnocchi is topped with crunchy roasted pistachios for a touch of originality; and sea bass is marinated in black tea, topped with a tomato and olive tapenade, and served with a chickpea and spinach stew. Both have a touch of the unexpected for a little, literal, tongue twisting.