Come for the shiny mobiles, stay for the fancy pasta at Ribelle. Credit: Derek Kouyoumjian
After rising through the ranks at Manhattan’s Momofuku chain, Chef Tim Maslow caused a stir when he returned to town (Watertown, to be exact) to work at his father’s restaurant, Strip T’s.
Last summer, he opened his own place in Washington Square and was a semi-finalst for the James Beard’s Rising Star award two years running. It's called Ribelle, which, as Google can tell you, means rebel in Italian. In less than a year, Ribelle has settled in as a Boston destination as much as a neighborhood highlight. With its urbane gray palette, shiny mobiles and small portions and high prices, it’s far from the average Mason jar and wooden bench-type hang.
Maslow’s menu is largely created around humble peasant food: pastas. But dressing up an affordable staple with squid ink and lobster, as he does in a delicate plate of squid ink fideos, means costs can get high. At Ribelle, what with those small portions, pasta is something to be savored rather than its original purpose of filling the belly, and the nightly changing menus includes a degustazione di pasta—a five-course pasta tasting. This shows how the appreciation of grains has grown in Wonder Bread-loving America. So, if the humble pasta dish is to be savored, start here.
Still, Ribelle is not only about pasta — halibut, pan-roasted and sweetened with pureed sultanas, has piquant pickled asparagus spears and a caper pesto—and it’s not necessarily Italian even when it is about pasta. For instance, the sturdy buckwheat bigoli noodles in short rib broth with grilled fiddleheads is more Asian-Russian fusion. And the puddingy avocado mousse sweetened with dulce de leche, which sits with chewy tapioca and crisped wild rice, is pure uninhibited modern American cuisine.
Ribelle also has a massive wine list of largely off-the-beaten-path old world selections, such as Le P’tit Blanc, a complex, bright white with hits of mineral and pepper, and heady notes of chamomile. By the way, Ribelle just promoted sous chef Craig Hutchinson (Radius, Salts) to chef de cuisine, leaving Maslow as executive chef — does another venture loom that takes him out of the kitchen?
If you go Entrees: $25-$31/five-course pasta tasting: $59 1665 Beacon St. Brookline 617-232-2322 www.ribellebkline.com