For Chef Phil Dwyer, there’s 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. And I just developed a real appreciation and respect for that. And I realized that this was the only way that I could really share that with the world. It’s really why I enjoy the hours, I enjoy the heat, I enjoy the stress of it, because I have actually first-hand experienced guests over the years stop me and say, wow, this really brought me back to Grandma in whatever town. Whatever it may be. And that’s really the driving force of it. I understand, from experience, what a bite of food can mean.”
And you’ll always 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.
“Grassona means fat woman. 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 the opposite if we tried. I’m the fat woman.”
On most nights, you’ll 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.
“It’s served very simply. A beautiful cutlet, some sauce, lot of cheese, cause I like cheese, over fettuccine, more red sauce. It’s simple, clean, eats really well, warms up really well. 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. As far as chicken parm goes, I haven’t had a better one.”
Starters you can sink your teeth into seven days a week include big plates of antipasto. And crispy oxtail arrancini filled with loads of cheese and topped with a caper salsa verde.But Phil will always steer you to his signature meatballs.
“I stand by these balls. They’re fairly light. They’re very delicate, heavily spiced without being spicy. It’s your traditional beef, pork, and veal grind, plus bacon. I’m into them.”
And ‘you’l’l be into the dinner menu. Depending upon how hungry you are, there’s the light and lovely Chickpea Polenta Primavera. And the incredibly hearty, head-turning Veal Porterhouse Saltimbocca.
“It’s one of those dishes that really carried a fajita-effect. 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 is a good sign.”
Or, check out the Fried Quail Contandina- a dish that’s truly a must try.
“It tastes like the deepest, richest fried chicken you’ve ever had. It’s beautiful, crispy, stays nice and juicy, moist. If you’re a big eater, you’ll be satisfied. If you’re looking for something light, you’ll be pleasantly full.”
And then there’s the Pappardelle Bolognese that rivals any in the city.
“So, the papperdelle bolognese, it’s hand down one of my favorite dishes on this menu. It’s just very rich and creamy and bright. I can’t get enough. I make myself a bowl every day, and it’s problematic.”
On the weekends, you’ll find one of the most creative Italian brunches around, featuring Tiramisu French Toast topped with sweet mascarpone and espresso syrup. And Phil’s meatballs make a cameo as part of a Benedict.
“I really like the meatballs and it just made sense. Like, I want pork on my benedict. I want salt, spices, from the cure. I was like, hey, why not? It’s all there.”
And if you like Caccio e pepe as a pasta, you’ll love it as an egg dish.
“It’s a way of conveying what’s gonna be there in verbiage that, oh, cacio e pepe, I know what that is. It’s pasta. But I’m going the protein vessel rather than the carb vessel for it.”
And whether you come on Tuesdays for the parm, the weekend for brunch, or any ol’ 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. It’s really one of the mantras that we throw around a lot, “Under promise, over deliver. And that’s really the goal.”
1704 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA 02445