When chef Louis DiBiccari wants something, he makes it happen. After deciding to cook professionally, he knocked on famous chefs' doors. (The guy does have a winning grin.) After starting Chef Louie Nights out of his little Brookline apartment's kitchen in 2003, as sort of a goof on Iron Chef, he turned it into one of the city's most popular popup series. And now he's making his first foray as chef-owner, teaming up with his brother Michael DiBiccari, front-of-the-house manager extraordinaire, for the 120-seat Tavern Road, opening soon in Fort Point. What he didn't want to do, as it turned out, was be on Top Chef or Chopped.
What happened with the TV shows? I blew it. I sat in the hotel room with the producers and the casting agents, and I just couldn't make myself want it. I had nothing to say. I couldn't get excited about the whole thing with the judges and those close-ups of the tension shots. I think I'm the only chef on my Congress Street block that doesn't have a show on the Food Network or PBS. It's funny because I love the idea of TV — love having Chef Louie Nights on film, and doing the cooking competition in real time with live guests and people watching on the web.
What and why is Tavern Road? When you open in a neighborhood, you have more of an obligation than just putting out a good chicken dinner and pouring great draft beer. Fort Point is the oldest and biggest arts district in New England. It's also become the center of the Innovation District, with lots of little high-tech companies launching in all the buildings on the block. We want to connect the dots between arts, technology, and hospitality. I started my career doing house parties in Brookline. We want to use our skills, talents, and hospitality so that Tavern Road feels like an extension of our house parties. "Eat, drink, bring friends." And hey, we have parking and a 2 am license!
What's your connection to the Fort Point neighborhood? Why are you so invested in the arts community? I lived here for a year about eight, ten years ago. And I loved it. It was all about the artists and kind of gritty, industrial, before the real-estate boom hit. It's become the new restaurant row. When Ming Tsai, Jody Adams, and Mario Batali all open on a block that already has Barbara Lynch, it says something about the neighborhood! Now, the artists are getting priced out, but the neighborhood still has the loft feel. It happens everywhere. Artists move in. People come, landlords take note, and the rents go up. We feel a strong connection to the Boston arts legacy. Our uncles, Adio DiBiccari and Angelo Cascieri, were sculptors in Boston who created many of the great public statues around town. Adio's studio was on Tavern Road near his alma mater, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Adio was so good that the MFA sent him to Europe for a year just to see great art. Adio used to throw legendary parties at his studio on Tavern Road. Tavern Road will keep the feel of an artist's studio, a loft. The family connection to the arts is in our blood.