Serafina, the newly opened Italian restaurant in the Financial District, comes from a long line of Serafinas: There are quite a few branches to the family in New York and Philadelphia, as well as internationally. But this is their first venture in Boston, and it’s being coordinated by restaurant impresario Seth Greenberg, who brought over chef Brendan Burke from Bastille Kitchen to run the new outpost. We asked Burke what it’s like to join the Serafina family, and learned how to prepare some octopus.
This is your first time opening a restaurant. How does it feel?
It’s very exciting. A lot of work, a lot of hours, but I’m very excited and very happy.
Were you very familiar with the Serafina brand prior to this?
No, not until Seth brought the offer to me, and then I did my research and went to New York, worked with them there, did a training, came back here, set up the kitchen and now we’re ready. [Laughs]
Are you putting your own spin on things or staying more faithful to the Serafina style?
Yes and no. We’re not here to change their brand by any means. They’re very successful and they’re obviously doing something right. Our space is definitely unique to their design, and that’s kind of Seth’s specialty, if you will. The place is beautiful, so we’re just trying to make good tasting, beautiful food, and that’s it.
Which meals did you add?
The halibut, the scallops, the involtini, the octopus. The mussels, I put on.
How do you prepare an octopus?
The octopus, we’re cooking it Greek style, in the oven, with carrots, celery, onion, white wine, extra virgin olive oil, lots of fresh herbs, wine corks to help keep it tender. So that’ll cook in the oven until it’s tender and then I’ll put it onto a really hot grill and kind of char it, and then it goes with a fregola salad. Fregola is like a Sardinian style pasta. It’ll appear kind of like a couscous, but it’s not. And that’s got roasted red bell peppers, pickled butternut squash, and then it comes wit a green harissa sauce. So it’s kind of spicy, but not too much. It’s mixed in with a Greek yogurt, so that kind of tames it down a little bit.