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Bina Osteria loses its exec chef

MC Slim JB Jun 3, 2009 11:27 AM

Restaurant just confirmed a rumor I originally saw on Yelp: Exec Chef Brian Konefal has left Bina. Azita Bina is running the kitchen, I'm guessing temporarily while they look for a replacement.

That's kind of surprising to me. I imagine they invested a lot in bringing him aboard, and the reviews have been strong. I liked his cooking, even forgave him his penchant for foams.


  1. c
    CakeNinja Jun 4, 2009 12:02 PM

    I ate at Bina about a month ago and can agree with a lot of commenters that Chef Konefal's gnocci was the best I've had in my life. That includes the summer I spent in Italy. I am sure that the reason that it is not on the menu anymore is because he is no longer at the restaurant. The recipes that chef's formulate are their property and they take them with them when they leave restaurants.
    Also, I am sad that I will not be able to eat his wife's (the former Pastry Chef) desserts again. They were equally amazing. I hope that they stay in Boston!

    1. MC Slim JB Jun 3, 2009 02:54 PM

      It's not a rumor. I confirmed with a call to the restaurant.

      The obvious reasons are consistent with many Chowhounds' initial reactions to the prices here, mine included: too high to keep the place busy and profitable in a deep recession. They're reformulating the menu downmarket to something that will get more butts in the seats, and Konefal wasn't interested in doing that.

      Maybe there's more to the story, but that's a simple explanation that fits the facts, and I'm a big fan of Occam's Razor.


      2 Replies
      1. re: maxrexsharky
        twentyoystahs Jun 3, 2009 07:31 PM

        Here's what I don't get: everywhere you turned you read about their melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi and their superb carbonara (and i can also attest to the deliciousness of both dishes, they were both excellent.) Why would they take these items off the menu? They had to be among their most popular dishes. Is it b/c they were this particular chef's signature dishes? Wouldn't you think one of the other talented cooks/chefs could figure out a way to try and replicate, if not the gnocchi, the carbonara?
        I had an outstanding dinner here just over a month ago. Was really one of my favorite new spots in Boston and I couldn't wait to get back. I just looked at the new dinner menu and was thoroughly unimpressed. There's nothing on there I'd be excited to get. The lunch menu does still seem to have the carbonara on it --another oddity --why only lunch?
        I get that they are trying to lower price points a bit --what I don't get is why they wouldn't keep some of their best signature dishes on the menu. A big disappointment, as far as I am concerned.

        1. re: twentyoystahs
          MC Slim JB Jun 3, 2009 08:43 PM

          Maybe the cost basis of Konefal's signature dishes (ingredients and labor) don't fit the new profile.

          I have to admit I was surprised to be there on a Saturday night right after the BoMag review appeared that said "don't miss the gnocchi" to find that the gnocchi had been discontinued. Chef sick of making it? Chef refusing to pander to the masses who only follow the critics? Coincidence? I can't say, but I can tell you there were a lot of disappointed first-time diners there that night. (I thought an earlier version of the gnocchi was very fine, but not my favorite dish there.)


      2. Suze123 Jun 3, 2009 01:38 PM

        Any word on where he might be going? I see that he came from NYC. It would be nice if he stayed in Boston as I really liked the food at Bina (not so much the prices or decor).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Suze123
          bagnacauda Jun 3, 2009 02:14 PM

          It would be great to eat that carbonara one last time.

        2. almansa Jun 3, 2009 12:16 PM

          I find it hard to believe that they invested much in him, other than to their publicist. They don't have enough seats to pay a chef big bucks, and I doubt they're a S corp, so their investors probably want to see a profit.

          1. Matt H Jun 3, 2009 11:50 AM

            I'm also assuming that his wife who was the pastry chef left also? This is very surprising, I hope the replacement keeps the kitchen running at a high standard because this is one of my favorite places to eat in the city currently, a great addition to the neighborhood.

            1. MC Slim JB Jun 3, 2009 11:48 AM

              One source tells me the move was in keeping with owners' desire to move a bit downscale in keeping with the economy, which is clearly not Konefal's bailiwick. Among other changes, expect a new lower-priced prix fixe menu. (I must admit, the prices did keep me from visiting more often.)


              1. p
                PorkTerrine Jun 3, 2009 11:44 AM

                Wow. Very surprising.

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