Established chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier recently kicked off their newest culinary venture, M.C. Spiedo Ristorante. The Italian Renaissance-inspired eatery is located inside the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel in the Seaport District. Gaier and Frasier traveled around Europe and were fascinated by Italy’s rich history-specifically, the Italian Renaissance.
In addition to being a time of significant artistic and cultural change, Frasier said that the Renaissance was also a time when people rediscovered “that food and cooking-going out and having parties-was part of life. Before that, cooking and eating was really only considered for sustenance.” The time period’s influence can be spotted in every detail of the eatery-even the food. A “spiedo,” the Italian word for “spit” or “skewer,” was a widely used culinary tool during the Renaissance, and it will be used nightly to roast the variety of meats on the extensive menu. Mark and Clark-the names behind the initials “M.C.,” have extrapolated actual recipes from the Renaissance era through extensive research. The recipe for the Leonardo salad, for example, was found scribbled in the pages of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s actual sketchbooks. Frasier also noted a chicken dish topped with fruit which was inspired by a recipe prepared for 90 wedding guests in Sienna on Dec. 28, 1326. “We’ve really brought back something that is pretty fascinating,” Frasier said, as almost the entire menu is based on historical dishes and methods of cooking.
The authenticity continues in the decor of the restaurant. The 80-seat dining room features a grand marble antipasti bar where 10 guests can sit and watch food be prepared up close. Opulent gold columns planted around the main dining area complement the luxurious red velvet curtains that cloak cozy booths on the opposite end of the dining area. The restaurant also features a private dining room for parties with up to 20 guests. The restaurant’s attention to detail is acute: five striking chandeliers shaded by baroque fabrics sprinkle the ceiling, and an authentic market carts zip around to deliver charcuterie, cheeses, and other small dishes to hungry patrons.
Before the birth of M.C. Spiedo, Gaier and Frasier opened two restaurants, Arrows and M.C. Perkins Cove, both in Maine. When asked how he became involved in the restaurant business, Frasier chuckled. “Like a lot of people in the restaurant business, I kind of fell into it,” he said. The dynamic culinary duo met years ago while working at the renowned restaurant Stars in San Francisco. Frasier credits the establishment as being “a landmark restaurant” that changed the the nature of restaurants in the U.S. Growing up, both chefs were born into families that loved to cook. While neither of them attended culinary school, both worked their way up in the restaurant business-starting with washing dishes and bussing tables.
Both chefs are excited by the challenge of opening a new restaurant, especially in Boston, which Frasier refers to as “a land of many colleges and extremely bright people” who are “dynamic and interesting.” Frasier contends that, while M.C. Spiedo has a contemporary feel, “it definitely evokes the era,” and that compared to the many intimate restaurants of Boston, Spiedo has a more glamorous vibe.
Gaier and Frasier hope the restaurant reflects the emotions of the Italian Renaissance. Frasier reiterated that the Renaissance was not marked by the reemergence of art and culture, but also “the rebirth of the enjoyment of life.”
“The whole restaurant is about that,” he said.