Sportello Bar Design, what about food (?) Boston

So I was just reading an article about the “most beautiful bars” around the country. (Honestly, I like them all but if you flip through the pictures there is a definite common design thread among most, so I wonder if they will all be “dated” in a few years given the commonality).

But that aside, they mentioned Sportello here in Boston. I had never heard of it and I don’t remember ever seeing it mentioned in any threads on here.

Anyone been? Was the food any good?

(Townsman was also mentioned)

Hardly beautiful, functional is more like it
Haven’t been for a long time but it used to have good carbonara, otherwise unexceptional imho
(Upstairs from the bar Drink)

Yes! I’m surprised it is included in the “Most Beautiful” list. The food is quite solid, and the space is interesting, but sort of black and white no-nonsense atmosphere. Worth a visit, though, especially for the carbonara and Bolognese.

Any updates? A friend is staying nearby on Monday night and selected Sportello from a list I gave her but when I made the reservation it seems it is counter seating only and stools with no back which give me pause…

So we ate at Sportello last night. Most importantly we really enjoyed the food. We shared the tagliatelle with bolognese, the pork milanese and roasted carrots. Everything was beautifully plated and delicious and I would happily eat it all again. The space is less inviting, no idea why it won a design award. Much of the seating is backless stools at the counter. I had asked for a table when I made the reservation and we did get a small two-top. My friend was seated on what looked like a wooden banquet. My chair was a bit flimsy and not very comfortable. As far as we could tell there were no hooks under the counter – it looked like women were holding their bags on their laps which is decidedly no fun. Every staff member we interacted with was delightful but oddly all our food came at once and it required some serious juggling to fit it all on the small table. Not sure why it wasn’t coursed out. So, pluses and minuses but the food was very good.


Saw this after you had dined at Sportello. I made it down there for dinner just once, a few years ago, and remember enjoying a lovely dish of house made pasta and a delightful wine. We dined on the way home from the airport after I returned from a trip so I can’t recall my order.

While I think they’re going for a modern and hip Italian vibe, the dining experience is so minimalist that I would only go again if Sportello were a convenient stop on my way somewhere. The setting lacks in basic comfort so it’s not a destination where I’d want to take guests or friends. I love minimalist and modern—and counter seating!—but Sportello leans so far in that direction I can only imagine there’s a design intent to discourage diners from lingering over their meals?


I wondered about that too. I will say we were not hurried in the slightest and in fact closed down the place. By contrast, my experiences at Myers + Chang, where I love the food, have without exception made me feel like they just wanted to turn the table as fast as possible.

1 Like

Now that is reassuring to hear. :blush:

1 Like

Years ago my firm designed and furnished an interior for a famous Boston deli and they requested we have the front legs of the chairs to be shorter so diners would lean slightly forward and get food to their mouths faster. No kidding, really. Fast turnover is whats it all about.


George Nelson designed the Nelson bench for his office so that people would not linger. Now it’s such an iconic design that people pay $1000 plus for an authorized version. On the other hand, the widely-used airport seating designed by the Eameses was found to be too comfortable for modern airports and is being replaced by less comfortable seating – the name of the game here is to make you walk around and buy stuff.

Backless seating, awkward stools, etc., in restaurants seem clearly to be designed with the purpose of encouraging turnover.

1 Like

Sorry link aboove takes you to wrong mage. This is the Nelson bench,

Yes. I know it well. Several versions made throughout the furniture industry. Nothing is sacred anymore.
Would Not Enjoy Sitting On That,

We have one and use it as our stereo-a/v equipment bench. Yes, these designs (in restaurants and elsewhere) may be eye-candy, but they’re definitely not ass-candy.


Great idea. Electronics feel no pain!

1 Like