Watch your pizza be prepared while you wait. / Cr: Derek Kouyoumjian
One thing any packrat crafter will note on walking into Pastoral is how much fun chef/owner Todd Winer undoubtedly had in designing this, his first restaurant. Located in Fort Point, old metal milk bottle crates are inverted as clever light fittings; old windows are screwed together to create a divider between the dining room and bar. But the décor isn’t clutter-bug or showoff; Winer used just enough old stuff to do the job. New fittings—nicely upholstered banquettes and pressed tin ceiling in the alcove—compliment the recycled elements and offset bare concrete pillars and ducting with a brightening dose of pretty.
While kitting out the place was clearly fun, Winer, the chef who put the Met Club’s kitchen on the culinary map and who did time with Bobby Flay and Todd English, says he’s having a blast in the kitchen: “This is more me,” he says, his chef whites swapped for an apron over jeans and a t-shirt.
More me means a succinct casual menu with rich embellishments. Winer went and got himself certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana as an official Pizzaiolo. That means he can make big poufy-crusted Neapolitan style pizza in the big red wood-fired oven clearly visible in the open kitchen. Exotic toppings include duck sausage, while pastas include a hand-rolled mushroom-stuffed plins with a sweet amaretto sauce and grilled escarole. Try the rare cooked hangar steak with a harissa mint sauce. Over drinks, share some pizza dough pasties (called knots) stuffed with olives or roasted garlic or the succulent, lightly-crumbed fried olives.
Winer makes his own unaged fresh cheeses, such as ricotta and mozzarella, and selected each wine, wisely including Californian St. Supery’s green certified, estate bottled sauvignon blanc, which is lightly lemony and delicately floral and perfect for spring. Fair to say, Winer’s hands-on and loving it.
Enjoy the soundtrack while you eat
With the garage door rolled up and windows open, Pastoral greets its first spring with a soundtrack composed of the Velvet Underground, Blur and The Stranglers. There’s rotating artwork featuring Fort Point artists (it's surprising there are any left, given the rents), and a melt-on-the-tongue crispy Nutella pizzetta. Winer isn’t the only one at Pastoral destined to have fun.
If you go: Entrees: $18-24 345 Congress St. Boston 617-345-0005 www.pastoralfortpoint.com