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A slice of Italy in Dorchester

Ashmont residents open Via Cannuccia Roman restaurant

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
A slice of Italy in Dorchester
Interior of Via Cannuccia in Dorchester. PHOTO: COURTESY VIA CANNUCCIA

Chef Stefano Quaresima fell in love twice in Boston. First with his wife, Tsedenia Kiros, whom he met while working at Petit Robert Bistro, and second with the Dorchester neighborhood. Now he channels his passion for food and the local community into his recently opened Italian restaurant, Via Cannuccia.

Via Cannuccia, located at 1739 Dorchester Avenue, officially opened its doors April 9 and Quaresima has been working nonstop ever since. “I work 20 hours a day,” he says. “It’s been very busy.” He manages the kitchen, rising in the early morning hours to bake pastries for weekend brunch and handcrafting pastas and pizza dough for weeknight dinner. Kiros manages the front-of-house operations in the evenings; by day, she’s the design director at a local apparel company.

Pizza is just one of the many offerings at Via Cannuccia in Dorchester. PHOTO: COURTESY VIA CANNUCCIA

The 32-seat restaurant (plus eight bar spots) serves up classic dishes from the Roman trattorias of Quaresima’s native Italy.  A trattoria is a middle-ground dining option, more casual than a formal restaurant but more of an experience than a quick snack stop. Diners will find dishes like short ribs stracotto, a play on a beef stew, pan-seared octopus, eggplant parmigiana and, of course, handmade pizzas and pastas.

“The menu rotates as I wake up in the morning. I want to keep my neighbor always curious to try new food,” says Quaresima who changes up the menu about every two weeks. “I want to represent what I used to eat when I was a child.”

On the brunch menu diners can find frittatas and other savory bites alongside a large selection of pastries. Most popular is the maritozzo, a brioche pastry filled with orange or lemon flavored cream. Locals start calling on Friday to reserve them for the weekend. When he can hire more staff, Quaresima hopes to open for breakfast daily, which also pays homage to the space’s former resident: a breakfast spot called Dot 2 Dot.

Behind the bar, Via Cannuccia serves a robust Italian wine list, a selection of beers, many of them local, and cordials. Staying connected locally and supporting other small businesses is important to Quaresima. He buys ingredients at the Ashmont Farmers Market whenever possible, he says, and is always on the hunt for regional suppliers.

The chef grew up cooking with his family in Italy and now, decades and stints in several countries later, Quaresima’s mother and father are temporarily in Boston helping him get the restaurant off the ground. In fact, the restaurant is named for the street he grew up on. Via Cannuccia truly is a family affair, and Quaresima hopes to someday cook with his own children at the restaurant.

For now, he finds joy in the local community, which has embraced the restaurant quickly and lovingly. “We have a really strong support from our neighborhood,” he says, “which makes me really happy.”

Via Cannuccia is open for dinner Wednesday through Monday, and for brunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday.

Ashmont, Cannuccia, Dorchester, Italian food