Restaurant Pava: Front on Centre is gone

Let's Eat by Kitty Kaufman

What would you do if you had two hip, high-end European clothing stores, four kids under the age of seven, and one willing partner? Create a hip, high-end European café to match, one that would capitalize on your already loyal clientele.

Tess Enright and Carlos Pava could if they were like that, boast a Midas touch when it comes to good taste in dress: witness 11 years on Brattle Street (Tess & Carlos)and 8 in Newton Center. So it comes as no surprise that their newest addition, Restaurant Pava, led by Susan Regis (Upstairs, Biba) and Jason Bond(No. 9 Park, Butcher Shop), charms its way into your heart.

Regis and Bond bring together an appealing set of Italian/Mediterranean plates: pasta (with short ribs, with fresh ricotta ), panini (soft shell crab, Kobe burgers, lobster club), pizza, piatti (steak frites, black bass), salads (poached tuna, sliced chicken), green salads (spinach, arugula), and dinners of sea bass, lamb chops, roast chicken and seafood stew.

Tess Enright is mother to Spencer, the oldest at six; and Sophia, Ella, and Ava. She moves as you might guess at an enviable pace between the fashion and the food; happily, they're set beside each other in Newton. Her children who are regular visitors helped the team at Pava inspire an ambiance that she describes as "family-friendly." And then she adds: "Well-behaved, family-friendly."

It's all about,"creating an atmosphere that says 'come try.' " So for parents in search of a night out beyond corn dogs, this setting is cheering. Pava buys into the new order: "The culture of food is changing. Even kids are savvy now. You know how when they say, 'feed me' and you're saying, 'try it.' They really want what's on your plate," Enright says. Well, maybe.

Susan Regis on the kid's fare: "We keep it simple with chicken soup, pasta with butter, spaghetti and meatballs and grilled cheese." Regis, a '98 James Beard best chef winner, says the menu is "an ongoing process." When you bring the family for brunch they will, thankfully, scramble the eggs plain and dish pancakes without ricotta.

Make no mistake: the Regis/Bond entrées inhabit an urbane polished setting. Grilled cheese is Gruyère or Fontina, salmon is licorice cured, the B in BLT is Vermont North Country and all the bread is house-baked. Regis orders grown-up stuff from Allandale Farm: tomatoes, corn, squash, lettuces, arugula and is waiting for late harvest watercress, chard and pumpkin.

Come by yourself and have oysters at the bar. There are sparkling wines, rosé, Champagne, '02 Cabernet Sauvignon Newton Claret, and beers with an animal motif: Whale's Tail, Old Speckled Hen, Brooklyn lager. Pava is closed. Susan Regis is executive chef at Upstairs on the Square in Cambridge. Jason Bond opened Bondir, also in Cambridge.

© September 2006
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