Barbara Lynch is a venerable name in this town, synonymous with elegant dining, well-executed dishes, and a military-level attention to detail. Unsurprisingly, Sportello—one of the star chef’s eight Boston spots—delivers on all of these fronts. With a name that translates roughly from Italian as “counter service,” the Fort Point spot is a modernist diner with an Italian soul. Two gleaming white counters evoke luncheonettes of yore, while the clean lines, soft lights, and massive windows overlooking Congress Street promise an elevated meal firmly grounded in the present.
Diners are bastions of comfort food, and here that notion is taken to its most sophisticated conclusion. Several pastas are made in-house daily, and a wine list featuring selections from throughout Italy is thoughtfully designed to pair with any dish, be it Strozzapreti with gamy braised rabbit and delicate picholine olives, or a Whole Grilled Dorade presented deboned and intact from head to fin.
There’s something wonderfully Italian about the mix of simple conception and beautiful creation happening in the open kitchen, reminding guests that food is meant to be eaten with the eyes as much as the stomach. Heirloom Tomato Salad is artfully plated to highlight summer’s bounty, while the Spicy Tomato Soup is a vibrant bowl of orange. Purple hued discs of Octopus Carpaccio are dotted with lemon puree, Calabrian chili, shaved baby artichoke, and squid ink chips.
Completing your re-education of what a diner can be is a final Italian flourish: a duo of cannoli dipped in pistachios and chocolate paired with a digestivo of house-made, pout-puckeringly citrusy limoncello. And we can never resist a scoop of gelato as a hat tip to the classic soda shops that inspired this new wave of counter service—just for good measure.
This is a lunch counter reimagined, so for the best experience—and best view of chefs at work—sit at the counter.
Head here for the weekday lunchtime deals—a soup and salad for $21, two courses for $32, or three courses for $37—when there’s a better chance of finding an available seat at the counter without a reservation.
Every pasta offering is made fresh, in house, every day. Ordering at least one of them is a necessity.
Sportello sits above Drink and next door to Menton, two other Barbara Lynch Collective spots that together take up almost an entire block of Congress Street. The three destinations have been a major catalyst in the revitalization of Fort Point as a dining haven in the city.