Published in the January 25, 2017 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
BOSTON — Lynnfield natives Louis and Michael DiBiccari have made a name for themselves in the restaurant world after opening their Boston-based restaurant Tavern Road.
The DiBiccari brothers founded Tavern Road, 343 Congress St., four years ago. Since the DiBiccari’s opened the restaurant, Tavern Road has become a popular dining destination in the Hub.
“Tavern Road is located in Fort Point, which is New England’s largest artist community,” said Louis. “We specialize in small plates. The cuisine is globally inspired and locally sourced. I run the kitchen and Michael is in charge of the front of the house, where he focuses on service and hospitality.”
Michael concurred with Louis’ sentiment.
“The restaurant is going well,” said Michael. “This is the first time my brother and I have owned a business, and we are doing it in a part of Boston that is up and coming.”
While most restaurants utilize a formulaic format where the menu rarely if ever changes, Tavern Road’s menu is constantly evolving on a day-to-day basis because dishes come and go with the seasons. Louis said he works closely with local food vendors to make sure Tavern Road always has the freshest ingredients.
“When you apply that philosophy, you have to change things with the seasons,” said Louis. “Everything we make is from scratch and we are really proud of our recipes.”
During a November 2013 episode of “The Phantom Gourmet,” Louis described Tavern Road as a “neighborhood restaurant with some attitude.” The restaurant is known for serving dishes such as porchetta, burgers, Mexican street tacos, flat iron steak and charcuterie.
“Everything we do we feel is very familiar to people, but we try to make the food a little challenging. We want people to try new things here,” said Louis on “The Phantom Gourmet.”
Louis said his love of food and cooking goes back to his Lynnfield days. He said Lynnfield Middle School’s former home economics class is “where I first learned how to make chocolate chip cookies.”
“That’s where my career started,” Louis joked.
Louis and his teammates on the Lynnfield High boys’ soccer, boys’ basketball and spring track teams frequently gathered at his mom’s house for dinner as well.
“I came from a big Italian family and we always used to meet up at my mom’s house for dinner,” said Louis. “She makes excellent meatballs and sauce.”
The LHS Class of 1993 graduate’s love of cooking continued to simmer while he was attending Fitchburg State College. Louis decided to abandon the school’s dining program and taught himself how to cook in his off campus apartment.
“My mom used to send me recipes and I would make food from scratch,” said Louis. “I realized college wasn’t right for me and I decided to enroll in culinary school. That is when things started rocking.”
After leaving Fitchburg State, Louis attended Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Arizona. He reached out to James Beard Award-winning chef Christopher Gross, and began working at Christopher’s Bistro. After graduating from culinary school, he moved back to Boston and began interning at Season’s at the Bostonian Hotel, which helped jumpstart the careers of renowned chefs such as Jasper White, Lydia Shire, Todd English, Jody Adams, Tony Ambrose, Peter McCarthy, Peter Davis, Susan Regis and Brian Poe.
Louis started working at L’Espalier, where he worked alongside chef Geoff Gardner.
“It’s a Boston institution,” said Louis. “It’s where I gained most of my knowledge.”
Louis continued working with Gardner at a restaurant called Sel de la Terre (SDLT), where he worked as a sous chef at the restaurant’s Long Wharf location. He oversaw SDLT’s cuisine and kitchen staff, and this is when he first started working with Michael.
Louis started gaining local and national recognition after he was named chef de cuisine of SDLT’s restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the Back Bay, where Louis was given complete control of the restaurant’s menu and kitchen. Louis became known for his nose-to-tail cooking, his relationship with local farmers and dedication to working within the organic seasons of the New England harvest.
Starchefs.com named Louis as a “Rising Star Chef” in 2009. SDLT received several awards from “Boston Magazine,” including best bar menu and best upscale burger.
After leaving SDLT in 2011, Louis spent six months traveling and worked as a chef at Dave Gilson’s Groton farm, The Herb Lyceum.
While Louis said he enjoyed working in other restaurants, he said the time had come to start his own restaurant. He said he’s thrilled to be working alongside his brother at Tavern Road.
“I had been working for other people for 15 years and I needed to do something on my own,” said Louis. “We are fortunate to have found a really nice location.”
Louis said he loves being a chef. However, he said cooking wasn’t his first career choice.
“I always wanted to be the starting two guard for the Celtics after being a Lynnfield Pioneer, but I guess I wasn’t athletic enough,” Louis joked. “I thought I had a chance because (former Celtics head coach) Chris Ford lived in town.”
Michael is currently in charge of the front of the house at Tavern Road. Like his brother Louis, Michael worked at both L’Espalier and Sel de la Terre. He also worked at a restaurant in the North End called Sage.
Michael’s love of the restaurant business dates back to his Lynnfield roots. While spending time at LHS and the old North Shore Technical High School in Middleton, Michael started working in the food service industry. He eventually dropped out of high school, got his GED and enrolled at Salem State College. He also attended Newbury College in Brookline, where he studied food service and hospitality.
While Louis is cooking and running Tavern Road’s kitchen, Michael works diligently to make sure the front of the house is operating smoothly. He said running the restaurant includes checking inventory, greeting customers and working closely with the staff.
“I make sure everyone is performing in each of their departments,” said Michael. “I enjoy engaging with the staff and seeing people grow. The biggest reward is watching people come into their own and grow under you. It’s like sending your kids off to college.”
During his Lynnfield days, Michael competed on the high school’s boys’ soccer and wrestling teams. He also studied martial arts under the direction of his father, Louis DiBiccari Sr., who owns Beyond Self Defense in Wakefield.
Since launching Tavern Road, Louis and Michael have frequently been featured on “The Phantom Gourmet,” whose hosts Dan and Dave Andelman are former Lynnfield residents. Louis said he graduated with Dan and is good friends with the show’s two hosts.
“They put me on when I was just a line cook,” said Louis. “They have been incredibly supportive and are great friends.”
During a recent episode of “The Phantom Gourmet,” Dan Andelman said Tavern Road is “always a party.”
Dave Andelman concurred with his brother’s sentiment.
“If you want to have fun in a colorful place with murals on the walls and an open kitchen and a great vibe, you want to go here,” said Dave Andelman.
Louis and Michael come back to Lynnfield frequently to visit family during the holidays. Louis also said he sees former classmates, friends and residents while out and about in Boston.
“I always tell people I am from the center of the universe because I can’t walk into any place in Boston without seeing someone I know from Lynnfield,” said Louis. “I am proud of my hometown and I am happy to be part of it.”