After eight months of delay and plans reshuffled, Bianca will open its doors in the Chestnut Hill community.
Owners Tim and Nancy Cushman were set to open in March with staff hired and the wood-fire grilled geared up. They were five days from opening up when suddenly the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S.
Tim said they put in the energy and time with the planning, and then when they were ready to open, the restaurant industry was shut down.
In mid-August, the Cushman's side project, Mr. Roni Cups, opened inside the Bianca. The couple used the side project to kind-of test the market for Bianca's menu. Besides offering a Roman-style pizza, the takeout menu also offered sushi and sashimi, wood-fired rotisserie and nori sushi tacos.
Nancy said Biana, which is set to open Nov. 12, will be a full-service restaurant, and Mr. Roni Cups will be a side branch to it. She said COVID-19 had them reverse engineer the openings. Nancy said when Bianca opens, the menu will be pared down but offer an eclectic lineup for delivery, takeout and dine-in.
Besides pizza, nori tacos and rotisserie items, the menu will include three pasta dishes, including a handmade egg pasta tossed with basil-almond pesto ricotta. The "masa" ball soup that includes the corn "matzoh" balls would be a welcoming dinner on the colder nights and is offered with steak, burgers, wood-grilled fish and salads.
Tim said he was excited about their mushroom French dip sandwich, which will have sautéed mushrooms with cheese and herbs on a crusty ciabatta bun. He said the dip is an umami mushroom broth au jus that customers will dip the sandwich into.
The bar will allow 10 people to sit down – all socially distanced – where guests can order from its menu of beer, wine, cocktails and sake while watching sports on the mounted TVs.
Nancy said the bar was designed for a communal congregation – something that people miss being able to go and do amid the pandemic. She said people long to be with the community with some sense of normality, and the bar offers them a COVID-friendly normal community atmosphere.
The couple has put into place several COVID-19 precautions, such as temperature checks with dine-in guests asked to provide their contact information. They said they hope Bianca will be a place for people to escape. It will feature a spacious dining room with plenty of lighting coming in from the skylight, with a retro-style color of yellows and greens and hanging vintage artwork on the walls.
Although indoor dining will be offered, the restaurant will also have outdoor dining along Bolyston Street, complete with heaters and umbrellas. On the other side of the building will be a second patio where guests can enjoy Mr. Roni Cups takeout.
The Cushmans own other restaurants that are finally making a comeback, such as the Japanese izakaya Hojoko and the O Ya restaurant. Gogo Ya is set to continue its pop-ups operations at O Ya.
Nancy said community support has been outstanding, perhaps because they waited for them to open after a year of building. While it's a challenge to open a new restaurant in the time of COVID, the community has been really warm in its support, she said.