Charcuterie will always be the first love for Moody’s Delicatessen owner Joshua Smith. He started obsessing over the meats when he was a 19-year-old working at Dean & Deluca’s.
“I was like, ‘I’m going to do this,’ ” he says. “Most people laughed and they said, ‘Well, nobody does this. It’s a dying art.’ And I was hell-bent on doing it.”
But now that he’s opening the Backroom, a dinner spot slated to debut April 8 in the back of Moody’s fawned-over Waltham shop, the spotlight will be on his new love: wine.
While he was working at the Four Seasons, Smith started making charcuterie for a tasting room at the Seghesio Family Vineyards in Sonoma. When he stocked them up every three months, he’d get a hands-on experience at the vineyards. Now, he’s making his own wine with a friend in Sonoma.
“We’re obsessed with wine and exploring it. So we thought a natural progression would be to create a backroom,” Smith says. “It’s a place where you can come and get a charcuterie board, and taste your way through as many wines as charcuterie.”
There will be more than 60 bottles of wine, mostly from California and France, with nearly half available by the glass, including 20 reds that are dotted with selections such as Screaming Eagle. That high-end pick routinely sells on the secondary market for more than $1,000 a bottle, but the Backroom will offer it by the glass thanks to the Coravin tool, which inserts a hollow needle through the cork so you can preserve freshness as you pour. An Enomatic dispenser will also help with wine preservation. But one of Smith’s best ways to keep the wine fresh is an old trick: “We’re going to have untraditional markups. We want to move wine; we want people to taste wine. We don’t want to make it unapproachable.”
But don’t be fooled by all the wine talk. The Backroom will still be a destination for charcuterie lovers. Smith plans to use different varieties in dishes such as a spicy ’nduja and ricotta flatbread and a homemade pasta program that will often allow Smith to pair pastas with various meats. Elsewhere on the menu, he’ll use a rotisserie to cook a slow-smoked chicken with vegetables and garlic confit, and he’s tapping a small Wayland farm for 17th-century-style flint corn that can be fried up for a bar snack or a side of grits.
With 33 table seats and 16 at the bar, Smith describes the Backroom as a “one-off” spurred on by Moody’s success. So don’t expect it to become a franchise—or even have a sequel. But he does have a Disney-like approach to one aspect of the business.
“The deli will stay open with the restaurant, so if guests come in and enjoy a sausage or salami, they’ll be able to purchase that after their dinner,” he says. “Walt Disney figured that out. As soon as they’re done with the ride, it ends in the gift shop. You have to go through the retail shop to get here.”
By Matt Martinelli – The Improper Bostonian
Photo by Holly Rike
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