2 Boston area restaurants named in Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants list


A Cambridge restaurant that prioritizes sustainable seafood and a Hong Kong-style cafe in Quincy landed on the food magazine’s Best New Restaurants list.

Rubato offers fried chicken bolo bao. Matt Li

Two of the Boston area’s most exciting new restaurants — one that pairs global flavors with seasonal seafood, and another that serves up Hong Kong cafe eats — made it on Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants of 2023 list. 

The culinary magazine and website recognized 24 new restaurants from coast to coast, featuring more spots than the publication has in the past.

“The restaurant world is packed with creativity right now, and these 24 spots represent the very best of dining,” the magazine wrote. 

Of those 24 eateries, Bostonians can hop on the T to dine out at two of them: Moëca in Cambridge and Rubato in Quincy. 


This modern, casual cafe made headlines in the summer of 2022 when Joyce Chan, owner of the beloved Contempo Bakery, announced she was retiring and passing the restaurant down to her son and daughter-in-law, Laurence Louie and Rary Ratsifa.

A couple of months later in August, the restaurant reopened as Rubato, serving up modern takes on Cantonese and Hong Kong comfort foods, like fried chicken bolo bao, a fluffy bun with a sweet, crunchy topping made into a fried chicken sandwich with slaw and “tasty sauce.”

Louie called the food “honest” in an email to Boston.com, saying these dishes are a marriage of his experiences growing up as a Chinese American and his time as a “fancy chef.” 

This restaurant is quick-service and gives customers the option to take the food to-go, get it delivered, or dine in (though the cafe only seats up to nine guests, according to Rubato’s website). 

There are a few similarities between Rubato and its predecessor. Both restaurants have names inspired by music — Contempo was named after a Chinese rock band, and Rubato is a musical term that translates to subtle rhythmic freedom in a performance. 

But for fans of the former restaurant, you’ll find familiar dishes at Rubato. According to their website, Rubato “absolutely had to keep our fan favorites like you tiao (fried dough), the congee, the milk tea, and the soy milk.”

Joyce Chan, owner of Contemp Bakery in Quincy, has given the space over to her son, Laurence Louie, and his wife, Rary Ratsifa, who have reopened the space as a Hong Kong café called Rubato. – Matt Li

Leaning into the music theme of the cafe’s name, Bon Appétit wrote that the food at Rubato is “of a grounded, confident chef playing familiar tunes with abundant style. We’re just happy to be in the audience.”

In an email, Louie said it meant a lot for him and his team to have their year’s work recognized nationally.

“Our whole team works incredibly hard day in and day out producing food, service, and vibes that we are proud of,” Louie wrote. “It’s really meaningful for a small spot in Quincy like ours to be recognized and celebrated on such a big stage.”

Menu prices range from $3 for a bao to a $20 pork chop. Bon Appétit highlighted the aforementioned fried chicken bolo bao as well as the rubato sampan congee, HK french toast with lava egg yolk, you tiao, and house soy milk. Louie also recommends the Rubato fun fun and the HK pork chop rice.

Location: 412 Hancock Street, Quincy; Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday. 


Moëca, the sibling restaurant of Cambridge’s Italian hot spot Guilia, opened in August 2022 with a mission in mind: Use seafood sustainably. 

It’s that mission from award-winning chef Michael Pagliarini that changes the menu so frequently and why you might find one type of seafood prepared differently in several dishes. 

In Bon Appétit’s explanation for choosing the restaurant, it mentions Moëca’s current dishes that use scallops: There’s Cape Cod scallop, followed by gnocchi topped with “scallop trippa alla romana,” and even a smoked scallop “taramasalata” (their take on a fishy Greek dip).

“Our focus on how our seafood is both received and prepared means you might find the same fish prepared four different ways throughout our menu,” according to Moëca’s website. 

What differentiates these dishes is the way the restaurant uses flavors — mostly from Italy and the Mediterranean, pairing its sustainable seafood dishes with ingredients like harissa and Calabrian chili.

Bon Appétit wrote that it wasn’t just the restaurant’s sustainable practices that caught the culinary publication’s attention, “but also curiosity—and it is as necessary as it is wonderful.”

The interior of Moëca in Cambridge.

In an email from owners Pagliarini and Pamela Ralston, they said the recognition was “rejuvenating,” especially given how adaptive restaurants have had to be in order to open in a post-pandemic climate.

“It’s a thrill to be recognized by Bon Appétit along with so many other incredible new restaurants, all of whom have had to be adaptive, resourceful, and resilient during this time,” the email said.

The menu consists of raw bar items, shared plates, pasta, and large plates, with prices ranging from $6 potato rolls to a $38 swordfish. 

Bon Appétit said the current highlights at this restaurant include the scallop dishes mentioned above as well as the chickpea pancake. Pagliarini and Ralson recommend the mackerel, tuna n’duja, their new Prop Comedy cocktail, and a maple bombe for dessert (warning: it sells out fast).

Location: 1 Shepard Street, Cambridge; Hours: 5:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Full list

Here are the 24 restaurants that landed on this year’s Best New Restaurants list:

  • Bar Spero, Washington, D.C.
  • Brochus Family Tradition, Savannah, Georgia
  • Chilte, Phoenix
  • Dakar Nola, New Orleans
  • Ensenada, Brooklyn, New York
  • Este, Austin, Texas
  • Fishmonger, Atlanta
  • Heavy Metal Sausage Co., Philadelphia
  • Indienne, Chicago
  • Kann + Sousol, Portland, Oregon
  • Kono, New York
  • Kuya Lord, Los Angeles
  • Ladder 4 Wine Bar, Detroit
  • Mamou, New Orleans
  • Maty’s, Miami
  • Moëca, Cambridge
  • Neng Jr’s, Asheville, North Carolina
  • Noodle in a Haystack, San Francisco
  • Pietramala, Philadelphia
  • Pijja Palace, Los Angeles
  • Rubato, Quincy
  • Seabird, Bainbridge Island, Washington
  • Sedalia’s Oyster & Seafood, Oklahoma City
  • Shuggies, San Francisco