Benedetto, an Italian restaurant that emphasizes local ingredients, opened its doors this week in the Charles Hotel.
The restaurant replaces Rialto, an award-winning restaurant that served Italian food for more than 20 years before closing this summer, and joins a roster of high-end restaurants, including Parsnip, Henrietta’s Table, and Harvest in Harvard Square.
Benedetto is the second Cambridge restaurant that Michael Pagliarini, Benedetto’s executive chef and co-owner, has opened in the past four years. He co-owns both Benedetto and the Massachusetts Avenue spot Giulia with his wife Pam Ralston.
“We’ve been in the neighborhood for four years now with Giulia, and a lot of the folks that live and work in this community have dined with us,” Pagliarini said.
The menu, which Pagliarini said he plans on regularly adjusting, includes offerings from braised duck leg tortelloni to pasta made in-house. Though some specialty ingredients come straight from Italy, Pagliarini said a major focus of the restaurant is the use of local ingredients.
“We are interpreters of great traditions, classic recipes, we interpret with what we have, that is to say local ingredients,” Pagliarini said.
Denise A. Jillson, the executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, attended the restaurant’s “soft opening,” which she said was successful. The restaurant will likely attract the parents of college students in Cambridge when they visit their children, Jillson said.
Pagliarini said he is looking forward to attracting customers who flock to Harvard Square.
“There are so many world events that happen right in this area, people need a place to gather, a place to have dinner, exchange ideas, have spirited discussions, and we can be that place, and that is a really meaningful and exciting this for me to do,” Pagliarini said.
Alex Attia, the general manager of the Charles Hotel, said he looked for a local chef to run the restaurant replacing Rialto. For Attia, Benedetto is a continuation of the hotel’s historic attempt to focus on local products and encourage local talent.
Pagliarini, who travelled through France and studied at the Culinary Institute of America before becoming a professional chef, said that opening a new restaurant is a difficult, yet rewarding, task.
“It’s like a band, every night it gets a little tighter. And that’s what happening. Getting to know each other, know each other well’s moves. It’s a Herculean task right now to get a restaurant like this running,” he said.
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