BROOKLINE – For Chef Phil Dwyer, there is no place like the kitchen.
“Very early on, I came to realize that I had never met anyone who didn’t have some beautiful memory around food. Conversations always came back to the kitchen. I developed a real appreciation and respect for that.”
You will find this chef cooking Italian classics with a side of soul at Grassona’s Italian. Located on Beacon Street in Brookline, Grassona’s is a rustic Italian eatery with various dining options, whether you want a seat at the bar, on the patio, or in their cozy dining room.
The term Grassona actually refers to a pleasantly plump woman, which to Phil is a bit ironic.
“You know, the plump, jovial, grandmother in back, making a red sauce all day. We also really enjoyed the irony of the fact that I couldn’t be any further from [that] if we tried.”
On most nights, you will find Chef behind the line cooking up all of the classics, like Mussels Fra Diavolo and a flavorful Olive Pesto. But Tuesday is the only night you’ll find him making Chicken Parm.
“A beautiful cutlet, some sauce, lot of cheese, over fettuccine, more red sauce. It’s simple, clean. I had somebody come in last Tuesday and order one to eat here and two to go when they found out that it was only a Tuesday thing.”
Starters you can sink your teeth into seven days a week include big plates of antipasto, crispy oxtail arrancini filled with loads of cheese and topped with a caper salsa verde, and Phil’s signature meatballs.
“They’re fairly light. They’re very delicate, heavily spiced without being spicy. It’s your traditional beef, pork, and veal grind.”
On the dinner menu, there is the light and lovely Chickpea Polenta Primavera, and the incredibly hearty, head-turning Veal Porterhouse Saltimbocca.
“Once one goes out to the dining room, within moments there’s five, six, seven of them on the board. And having nothing but clean bones come back,” Phil said.
The Fried Quail Contadina is truly a must try dish.
“It tastes like the deepest, richest fried chicken you’ve ever had,” Chef described. “It’s beautiful, crispy, stays nice and juicy. If you’re a big eater, you’ll be satisfied. If you’re looking for something light, you’ll be pleasantly full.”
Then there is Phil’s guilty pleasure – a Pappardelle Bolognese that rivals any in the city.
“It’s hand down one of my favorite dishes on this menu. It’s just very rich and creamy and bright. I make myself a bowl every day.”
On the weekends, you will find one of the most creative Italian brunches around, featuring Tiramisu French Toast topped with sweet mascarpone and espresso syrup. Phil’s meatballs make a cameo as part of a Benedict. And if you like Caccio e pepe as a pasta, you’ll love it as an egg dish.
Whether you come on Tuesdays for the Parm, the weekend for brunch, or any old’ time for some well executed Italian, Phil and his team want you to feel at home.
“The goal was really to provide just a comfortable, homey, environment, and really over-deliver with the food and the drink program. And I think thus far, we’re doing a pretty darn good job of that.”
You can find Grassona’s Italian at 1704 Beacon Street in Brookline, and online at grassonasitalian.com.
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