Humble, hard-working and a heavy hitter in the food and beverage industry, Bruno Marini is a well-respected Boston restaurateur with over 20 years of experience. He’s managed some of the top properties in town, and here he shares how his childhood in Italy has impacted his hospitality mindset, which spirit he thinks is underutilized behind the bar and what type of wine you’ll probably never see in his glass.
Where do you work now? What’s your position? Where else have you worked in the last five years?
Currently, I’m the Director of Food and Beverage at Chopps American Bar and Grill, in Burlington Mass. I’ve spent a great deal of time in the industry where I’ve previously served as the General Manager of Food and Beverage at The Envoy Hotel, and Chief Operating Officer and Wine Director at Strega Waterfront.
Briefly, how did you get involved in restaurants (and, specifically, bartending)? What draws you to this line of work?
My parents owned a restaurant in Italy, so naturally I grew up watching and learning how to cook and entertain. Farm to table was all I knew. We only ate what we grew, which is a big reason why sourcing locally is important to me and how we choose to serve our guests.
In terms of wine, I like to drink Gavi during the summer and stick with Grenache for a red pour. I don’t really have a least favorite order, but you probably will see me staying clear of a Zinfandel!
How do you feel about the mixology movement? Does that term appeal to you, not appeal to you? What do you think it means to be involved in the bartender culture, if you agree that there is one?
The mixology movement is amazing. It pushes the envelope for creativity and keeps things exciting at the bar. I think people are constantly looking to try something new, bartenders included. Mixology heightens the imagination and challenges people behind the bar.
On your days off, what kind of places do you frequent? A lot of industry folk are happier with a Miller High Life and a Fernet than composed cocktails or craft beer. You?
When I happen to have a free day, I like to stop by The Townshend in Quincy and check out the latest cocktail creations. But, I will never turn down a chance to go to Yellow Door in Dorchester for some warm comfort food and a cold beer.
What do you always keep stocked at home? Are there different things you like to drink or to make for special occasions?
My friends drink Bud Light, so of course I always have some stocked in my fridge. You’ll also find a bottle of bubbles for special occasions and vodka for mixed drinks.
Are you excited about one spirit in particular? Is there something really overrated or underrated, in your opinion?
I think gin is underutilized and makes for a great cocktail. Tequila is often underrated. In fact, most don’t know tequila is created to be sipped slowly rather than taken as a shot.
What’s something you wish the average guest knew about your job, not service-wise, but related to the craft of bartending. (In other words, apart from common courtesy and being a good guest, what’s something you think everybody should know about bartending?)
There’s a lot of work and effort that goes behind crafting menus that pair well with cocktails. We take our time to create and to try each wine and mixed drink. It’s important to balance savory food with the right drink to make for a great meal.