After seven years wowing locals with Greek delights in a snug space overlooking Route 1 in Brunswick, chef Tim O’Brien closed Trattoria Athena this month. Over on Maine Street, his wine bar Enoteca Athena is getting a roommate.
“I’m folding two restaurants under one roof,” said O’Brien, who wearied of toggling between his downtown Brunswick restaurants every week.
When his new concept La Trattoria opens, he will wear two hats in one kitchen. The lovely store front, that served as overflow space since Enoteca opened four years ago, is being transformed into an intimate 20 seat restaurant featuring “regional Italian cuisine that’s rustic, real food,” said O’Brien, whose family is from The Boot.
Dishes like braised rabbit will be paired with Southern Italian wine. “It’s going to be a blast, beautiful and fun,” he said, in the warm space last week. “Homey foods. Not Fancy.”
In the front corner of the sunny, knotty pine room, O’Brien will hand roll pasta before diners’ eyes.
In the back, dividing both restaurants, a retail space is taking shape. Customers can pick up fresh squid ink pasta, rigatoni, cheese and regional wine to replicate this at home. “It’s our own Eataly,” said O’Brien, of the Italian marketplace co-owned by Mario Batali.
Back in the open kitchen he’ll do double duty, preparing Greek meals for the Enoteca and Italian for the trattoria. He is adamant about keeping both concepts separate. “You can only order this menu here,” said the chef as the late-afternoon sun turned the space aglow.
La Trattoria is a welcome addition to Brunswick’s diverse and accessible dining scene. An early April soft opening is planned. La Trattoria, 97 Maine St., Brunswick.