The Boston Licensing Board granted three all-alcohol licenses to North End restaurants this week. The new awards come as part of the ten new citywide licenses up for grabs as a result of 2014 State legislation. The new licenses are ‘upgrades’ for existing beer and wine licenses. The latter will be returned to the city and eventually re-granted to other establishments.
The new all-alcohol licenses were awarded to:
- Cantina Italiana, Hanover Street (Fiore Colella and Patricia Colella)
- Mare, Mechanic Street, off Hanover) (Frank DePasquale and Joseph DePasquale)
- Monica’s Trattoria, Prince Street (Jorge, Frank and Patrick Mendoza)
In making the awards, members of the Licensing Board referred to their determination of “Public Need,” the official hurdle under the law. Board members cited the 2,200 signatures supporting Monica’s with family ownership. For Mare, members noted 536 signatures in support and the offering of a different kind of seafood restaurant. Cantina Italiana was hailed as the oldest restaurant still operating in the North End and large capacity with 180 seats.
Denied by the Licensing Board for the all-alcohol upgrades were North End applicants Antico Forno, Salem Street (Carla Gomes), Strega Ristorante, Hanover Street (Nick Varano) and Ducali Pizzeria and Bar, Causeway Street (Philip Frattaroli). Antico Forno intended to subsequently transfer its beer/wine license to Caffe ‘Lil Italy, also on Salem Street. In discussing the rejections, the Board commented that there were similar places in the area, lack of public need (financial need alone was considered not sufficient) and that they had already granted the aforementioned three all-alcohol upgrades in the North End.
Broad neighborhood support for all the North End restaurants was shown at the January meeting of the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) as well as a city-sponsored abutter’s meeting. The Residents’ Association (NEWRA) did not weigh in on the issue and was unsuccessful in seeking a deferral until their February membership meeting. At the Licensing Board hearing earlier in the week, North End resident and chair of the NEWRA Zoning, Licensing and Construction Committee, Victor Brogna, questioned the public need in the North End. He said “every restaurant gets its customers to sign petitions, but the location of the restaurant in an area where there are other licenses needs to be considered on the question of public need. Has anyone ever walked down Hanover Street and complained that there was nowhere to get a glass of whiskey? I think not.”
With approximately 90 licenses (36 all-alcohol and 54 beer/wine/cordials) the North End currently has about 9% of Boston’s total liquor licenses.
Next week, the Board will hear and vote on an all-alcohol license upgrade for Carmelina’s (Damien DiPaola) on Hanover Street and a new beer/wine license for Scopa (Riccio Family), in the location formerly occupied by Pomodoro on Hanover Street.