“The concept of an enoteca,” says Babak Bina, who owns the Beacon Hill wine bar Bin 26 Enoteca with his sister, Azita Bina-Seibel, “we didn’t invent.” But Bina says the siblings’ enoteca is unique to Boston, where few other restaurants focus on such a wide range of wines from small producers. Some of the lighter reds, like nebbiolo and Beaujolais cru, pair well with one intriguing menu item—the cocoa tagliatelle ($15), says chef Bina-Seibel. The handmade tagliatelle is paired with porcini, mushrooms; cocoa gives the pasta a musty, earthy flavor that complements the dense, silky fungi. The herb nepitelo, also known as calamint, brings a muted brightness to the dish. Bina-Seibel says she tries to limit most menu items to four ingredients, and in this case, tagliatelle, garlic, porcini, and nepitella comprise a simple pasta dish memorable for its firm, satisfying grip on the senses.
Since 1995, brother and sister team Babak and Azita Bina have made their names synonymous with the neighborhood’s dining scene. Lala Rokh, their Persian gem, is a dependable outpost for all things saffron-laced and eastern spiced. With their latest culinary venture, they’ve brought that commitment to authenticity to a different region: Italy. Enoteca is the Italian word for a place where simple, elegant food is served to complement the wine on a list that’s 150-choices long and features 50 wines by the glass. The wine list is perpetually growing, so there’s plenty to complement at Enoteca. The Binas take such well-deserved pride in their incredible wine list—they hand-selected each bottle in their global collection—that the airy restaurant’s entire design has a vineyard-inspired style. The coat hooks are corkscrews, the tables are walnut and the floors are bamboo. But even with all that scenic emphasis, let’s not disregard the food. All of the Stuzzichini (read: small bites) that Azita creates in the kitchen are made with local seasonal produce or ingredients imported directly from Italy. Depending on the season, you’ll find creative enticements like smoked swordfish, cocoa tagliatelle with porcini and beef carpaccio with aged Parmesan and arugula, and lime flavored cold melon soup with ham and figs. There are small plates to share and full entrees to savor, so you can stop in for a bite and sip on your way out, or loiter for hours, Italian-style.
Uncomplicated, comforting dishes like soups, pastas, and grilled steaks served in an understated, minimalist setting make Bin 26 Enoteca a welcome addition to Beacon Hill. But the real focus is the wine – there are dozens served by the glass, including some of the priciest, and a total of about 300 on the menu. This year, sister-brother owners Azita Bina-Seibel and Babak Bina, who also own the Persian restaurant Lala Rokh around the corner, will add house wines, too. The more the merrier.
wine lists are notorious for being stuffy documents, filled with tough-to-pronounce terms, confusing varietals, and an intimidating number of choices. But it doesn’t have to be so, judging from Bacon Hill’s new addition, Bin 26 Enoteca, and its exhaustive (and quite entertaining) wine book. Created as a collaboration between general manage Andy Cartin and siblings/Co-proprietors Babak Bina and executive chef Azita Bina-Seibel, the wine book breaks down the restaurant’s 200-plus wines into categories like “Remember the Old Days,” “a Syrah by Any Other Name,” and “Spanish Wines: Hip-Hip-Jorge!” It also includes a glossary, a pronunciation page, and a more tradition index. The whole point? To make sure the label “wine snobby” will never apply to Bin 26, to keep the mood light, and to introduce patrons to wines that they might never have tried otherwise. Another unique offering is the list of approximately 50 wines by the glass, available in four different sizes: 100ml, 250 ml, 500, ml and 750 ml (a full bottle). Customer reaction to the book has been “ecstatic,” Bina raves—and we’re on the bandwagon too.
So. Another upscale Italian opening? You don’t say. Yawn. Bin there, ate that. So what if Bin 26 Enoteca’s backed by big-time names — like Azita Bina-Seibel and Babak Bina, the brother-sister team who brought us Lala Rokh? And big whoop if it follows in the beloved enoteca tradition of pairing incredible wines with outstanding food. And who cares if the interior — walnut tables, bamboo floors, and luminous wine bottles everywhere — is as minimalist-chic as a little black dress? Or that the food (creative plates of ethereal cocoa tagliatelle with porcini or beef carpaccio with aged Parmesan and arugula) is all made with either fresh, seasonal ingredients from local farms or imported straight from Italy. We’re so jaded; we’re barely impressed that, with its unpretentious vibe and wide windows looking out onto Charles Street, it might just be the kind of neighborhood spot Boston’s been missing. (Okay, so maybe we are impressed. Very.) On second thought, we have an altogether different question for the place. Where have you bin all our lives?
…I had some particularly delicious meals in Boston, beginning with a late dinner at Bin 26 Enoteca on Charles Street. The new wine bar (it opened several weeks ago) was packed when we sat down for dinner at 9:30 p.m. We enjoyed our Italian-inspired, locally sourced food—as well as the bottle of Prosecco—and they catered to the special requests of my picky friends: No sauce on the fish for Jenn and a very well done hanger steak for Jess. I enjoyed my favorite Italian pasta dish, linguine with clams.
Like Goldilocks, you choose the size you want at a new Beacon Hill wine bar. At Bin 26 Enoteca, wine pours come in three sizes: a 100-milliliter glass, a 250-milliliter carafe, or a 500-milliliter container, the equivalent of two-thirds of a bottle. At this Goldilocks of a wine bar—there’s a restaurant, too—you decide which one is just right. Don’t be put off by the flip descriptions or even the higher-end entries on the wine list, as there are deals. Try the only Portuguese wine, a white vinho verde that’s crisp and perfect with appetizers, or the Mano a Mano tempranillo from Spain. Both are 2005 vintages, one of the best European wine years on record.
Brother-and-sister restaurateurs Babak and Azita Bina have treated Bostonians to delicious and exotic meals for more than a decade—most recently at their one-of-a-kind Persian eatery Lala Rokh. Now, the siblings are further tantalizing taste buds in Bacon Hill with their new casual, yet refined, wine bar and restaurant Bin26 Enoteca. Bin 26 pairs Azita’s beloved Italian cuisine—including dishes like cocoa tagliatelle with Cepes mushroom ragout, and lime-flavored cold melon soup with ham and figs—with more than 150 wines from around the world, (including 50 by the glass) to offer all the class of a gourmet restaurant without the attitude. Check out this charming new addition to the culinary scene now, and be the first of your friends who’s “Bin there, done that.”
Demolition has started at Bin 26 Enoteca, a new 64-seat wine bar and Italian-influenced restaurant in the old Torch space on Charles Street, at the foot of Beacon Hill. Brother-and-sister duo Babak Bina and Azita Bina-Seibel, who also own Lala Rokh, expect that their new venture will open around Labor Day, For the new restaurant, Azita will call on her history as an Italian and Mediterranean chef. Until 1997, when she decided to focus full time on Lala Rokh (“and on our mother’s recipes,” says Babak), Azita and Babak owned Azita Ristorante in the South End. Babak says that “the community is ecstatic. Enoteca is a direct response to what people have been telling us they want – a nice neighborhood place where they can pop in for a glass of wine in the afternoon, have a casual dinner, or get a bite on the way home after the theater.” He stresses that Bin 26 won’t just be food for the ‘hood: ‘We’re not a gated community or anything. Just people, living in the city, who like good food.”
Babak Bina poured wine last week at the bar of the new restaurant he opened with his sister Azita Bina-Seibel at 26 Charles Street. Bina said the concept behind “Bin 26 Enoteca” (“eno” references wine while “teca” means bar) is to have fun and relax in a friendly environment, whether stopping in for a single glass of wine and a bite of food or for a special occasion dinner. The wine book has 150 selections from around the world, with 50 wines sold by the glass. Azita, executive chef, will oversee the preparation of seasonal menus reflecting the different regions of Italy. The restaurant will he open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.