South Boston restaurant Karen Akunowicz’s Volpe Bar serves southern Italian cuisine
If there is a dish that embodies the philosophy of Bar Volpe, chef and restaurateur Karen Akunowicz’s new restaurant and pasta shop in southern Italy south of Boston, culurgiones, Sardinian stuffed pasta with an intricate seam. It’s all about simplicity on the surface – four plump pockets of dough sit in a tomato sauce – but a lot of effort below, and it’s such a region specific dish that you’re unlikely to find it anywhere else around Boston.
This does not mean that everything on the menu strictly adheres to the repertoire of southern Italy. While Akunowicz is “passionate” (as she puts it) – or “obsessive” (as she says others say) – about certain culinary traditions, she is also not “so loyal” to any of them. others, so the menu plays with classic dishes as well as its own tours inspired by the flavors of the region.
Bar Volpe follows Fox & the Knife, which focuses on cuisine from northern Italy, particularly the region of Emilia Romagna. The Volpe Bar gives Akunowicz the opportunity to serve dishes that don’t fit the Fox & the Knife concept, and the larger space also allows for the expansion of fresh pasta sales that it started during the pandemic. Truly, her dream of opening a pasta store fueled the restaurant’s opening: a store on its own would be difficult to make financially viable, but it works if it’s attached to a restaurant, she says, and the Bar Volpe is therefore both. A little over ten years ago, Akunowicz lived in Modena, Italy, waking up at 3 am and learning to make pasta with âlittle old ladiesâ in a room full of plywood-topped trestles; now she sells pasta nationwide through Goldbelly, with an upcoming Williams-Sonoma partnership.
Here is an overview of some of the dishes at Bar Volpe’s opening menu.
When Akunowicz visited Naples, a group of women befriended her in a square, curious as to why she was there alone. When she explained that she was a cook and that she was there to eat pizza, they took her to various pizzerias and that hospitality is the driving force behind what she hopes to achieve at Bar Volpe. “I mean, ‘Come on out. Come and eat with us. Let us show you this thing.
While this memory of eating pizza with strangers in Naples is an undercurrent at Bar Volpe, the restaurant does not have a pizza oven, so there is no Neapolitan style pizza on the menu, but Akunowicz and his team wanted to do Something in the area of ââpizza that would make sense to Bar Volpe. They landed on a pizzetta made from puff pastry stuffed with cheese and topped with black seed. âArmenian string cheese contains black seed,â Akunowicz explains, âand I love these flavors together. For some reason, the flavors in the cheese kept reminding me of this.
The pizzetta is “super flaky, very crispy and great to share,” says Akunowicz, noting that Bar Volpe can host larger parties better than its older brother, and dishes meant to be shared like these are “the dishes. that the restaurant was built.
When Akunowicz worked in the pasta store in Modena, the store almost exclusively produced tortellini, but workers also showed him how to make different shapes of pasta, like Sardinian culurgiones. “I think it’s such a beautiful and fun shape, and I hope when people see them and eat them they know that – at the risk of sounding really out of date – a lot of love, a lot of effort has been put into it. devoted to this. It’s really simple, but there is a lot of effort, technique and skill put into it.
Bar Volpe also serves several other pastas, including pomodoro bucatini with guanciale and spaghetti al limone with Jonah crab.
“Ubiquitous, right? Akunowicz said. âYou can’t go anywhere in Sicily without having fritti misti.â As she developed the dish, she kept coming back to a Rhode Island-style squid with spicy tangs, “and it ended up turning” into bomba Calabrese, a spicy, all-over pepper spread, balanced with an aioli. with refreshing basil. âIt’s a fun representation of this dish,â she says, noting that it’s one of her favorite dishes on the menu.
One of the restaurant’s antipasti, it joins dishes like farro arancini; porchetta with salsa verde; and grilled artichokes.
Akunowicz inherited a bunch of paella pans with the restaurant. Thinking about the frying pans, the wood-fired grill and her “bizarre obsession” with Sardinian fregola pasta (small grilled balls typically made from semolina flour), she decided to make a Sardinian-inspired paella, full. seafood and artichokes, cooked over a wood fire. âIt’s something we’ve been working on for a very long time, and I love it,â she says. “I’m glad I can use fregola in this way, where he’s kind of the star of the show, not an afterthought.”
âI love chicken,â Akunowicz says. At Bar Volpe, it’s pickled in buttermilk overnight, then stuffed with black truffle mayo before firming up and drying in the walk-in for a day. It’s served with kale – “I always want to eat it all with braised, bubbly greens,” Akunowicz explains.
âWe wanted the chicken to be simple; we wanted the flavors to really shine. It’s really using the wood-fired grill in a way that makes a lot of sense, letting those beautiful ingredients shine.
Like Fox & the Knife, Bar Volpe has an exciting collection of amari, and there are a few desserts to pair with an after-dinner drink, including the gelato brioche (basically an Italian ice cream sandwich like you might) find in Sicily) and an alcoholic affogato float.
Bar Volpe is currently open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., although Akunowicz hopes to expand its hours in the future; the cozy bar / market area could possibly be opened for weekend coffee service. Follow him Instagram for updates and to make reservations here.