BOSTON - How many neighborhood Italian restaurants can one city maintain? It’s not a rhetorical question. Don’t believe me? Visit South Philadelphia one of these days, or New Haven or Hoboken if you really want to live out pallid cliches of wine and roses. All home to some of the best and the worst that Italian cuisine has to offer on the East Coast.

It’s not that the Boston area is necessarily overrun with Italian food. It’s that it’s overrun with bad Italian food. You can praise the North End all you want. There are two words by dint of comparison: Rte. 1. Yes, there’s astounding Italian food to be found in Brockton, Framingham and even those hidden suburbs where you would least expect to find it. There’s also Rte. 1. Revere Beach? Well…  it isn’t too far from Rte.1 now, is it?

But Brookline isn’t Rte. 1. It’s its own beast, with a food culture that’s a contrasting spillover; one where reliable high-end favorites meet… well, distinctly non-Mexican “Mexican influenced” taquerias and artisanal pizza shops at prices that most definitely indicate you are indeed in the town of Brookline.  A $26 burrito? Yeah, that’s Brookline. Lobster roe sashimi? Yeah, that’s also pretty Brookline. Mandatory truffle-infused ketchup? I’d rather be on Rte 1. But you’ll find it in Brookline. In fact, if Brookline and Rte.1 had a child, they’d name it Saddle River.

One thing Brookline isn’t renown for is neighborhood focused Italian eateries. Exorbitantly priced Tuscan grilles, maybe. But Bar ‘Cino hopes to challenge that perception. It’s the latest Massachusetts entry from the Newport Restaurant Group, which operates two area locations of the Papa Razzi chain as well as over a dozen properties throughout the state of Rhode Island

“In looking to introduce Bar ’Cino to the Boston market, we wanted a location that would foster a community of passionate customers who share our love of delicious Italian food and drink,” said Newport’s Chief Operating Officer, Casey Riley in a press release regarding Bar ‘Cino’s local opening, scheduled for this Friday, January 17th. “We’re confident we’ve found our home at 1032 Beacon Street and look forward to welcoming guests to the Newport Restaurant Group family.”

Bar ‘Cino bills itself as an informal Italian-inspired neighborhood spot. But there are neighborhoods and there are neighborhoods. If the idea of a multi-million dollar hospitality firm based in Newport, RI running a neighborhood restaurant in Brookline raises your eyebrows, you don’t know Brookline. A casual glance at the menu of Bar ‘Cino’s parent location in Newport reveals classics including baked clams Pomodoro in white wine and chili flakes, tagliatelle with roasted mushrooms and asparagus, chicken Milanese, farro risotto with charred radicchio and roasted pepper sauce, and yes; the predictably artisanal pizzas. In short? Neither the fusion Italian you’ll find from upstarts to the North End or the marinara drenched throwback to the ‘70s that is Rte. 1, nor a happy medium between the two. It’s its own beast, apparently—which isn't necessarily a bad thing at all.

“We do see opportunities up in Boston. It’s a big market, not easy to get into. We spent a solid two years to get a location we like,” O’Reilly told the Newport Daily News recently  “We definitely see ourselves now as a regional company and Boston as a great opportunity with a vibrant, year-round market. We see ourselves growing there and focusing on our home base of Newport as well. We wouldn’t rule out continuing to expand here.”

Hey, Casey? Heard there’s a new development going up at the old Hill Top Steak House. Property’s cheap. Real cheap. Guess where it’s located?

Bar ‘Cino is scheduled to open Friday, January 17 at 1032 Beacon St in Brookline. Hours have yet to be disclosed. For more information, visit Bar ‘Cino .

Image via Yelp