evoo's old sign

We have often been asked how and why we chose EVOO for the name of our restaurant.  This post shares with you some of the fun that took place towards the end of 1997 when Colleen and I were trying to figure out the name of our soon to open restaurant, not an easy decision, at least not for us.  You have to understand that Colleen and I aren’t the fastest when it comes to naming.  Both of our children’s names weren’t decided upon until  they were 3 days old and we filling out the exit papers at the maternity hospital.  Lot’s of deliberation was going on, for months, but, the final decision was not made until it had to be.

Many chefs use there names, which is great if your name is Jasper or Hammersley.  In my case using either Peter or McCarthy conjures up images of an Irish Pub, not a bad thing, just not what we had in mind for our restaurant.  Plus I don’t think I would have been comfortable naming the restaurant after myself.  The amount of shit that my friends and family would have given me would have been tremendous.  Of course there were many inappropriate eponyms that friends suggested.


Using the address was another option.  118 Beacon Street, our original restaurant’s street address.  Beacon was seriously considered.  In the end using the address seamed a little to uptight for us, we wanted a fun name.

Toward the end our naming time frame, we had to get it done so we could incorporate, a necessary formality that usually takes place many months before a restaurant actually opens.   I was doing some consulting, helping some restaurants with menu design and recipes.  While writing a recipe for god knows what, instead of writing out extra virgin olive oil, I used the acronym EVOO,  not an original idea on my part.  I had been and had seen many of my peers use the same acronym for years.  Of course, this was all long before Rachel Ray’s claim to have originated the acronym.  It dawned on me that EVOO may be a good name candidate.  That night I suggested it to Colleen, she didn’t like it, which was not a surprise to me.  She often takes time to warm up to my ideas.  She thought that no one would know what it means, which they didn’t and many still don’t.


We actually had a list of potential names posted on our refrigerator.  We would cross off and add on as we went along.  For a long time EVOO was just another option, I really didn’t think that it would end up at the top of the list.  I wish I knew where that list was now, I think it would be fun to see the other names, I am curious what I would think of them now.  Were there any good alternatives amongst them?

If I remember correctly we had whittled the potential names down to two, EVOO and possibly Beacon.  During one of the many meetings we had with our lawyer, who was pressuring us to decide on the name (he needed it, so we could incorporate).  He asked us what names we were thinking of.  We told him, he immediately said “oh, you have to go with EVOO, it’s fun, it’s different, people would remember it” which were all things that we were looking for in a name.  That sealed it for us, EVOO went to and stayed at the top of the list.

The only reason that I have second guessed our choice is that the Food Network crowd who know what the acronym represents think that we are an Italian or Mediterranean restaurant. Which we are not.  Describing  the style of food we serve and why is the topic for a future post, it’s not a simple answer.

I just had Colleen proof this post to be sure it was factually correct.  She agreed with everything except for my suggesting EVOO.  Her delusional memory recollects that she saw it on some notes that I was writing for the  previously mentioned consulting job.  Claiming she suggested it to me.  Once again someone taking credit for my idea. Women…

evoo logo


I love Thanksgiving! A true family holiday, no gifts, no forced professions of love, no candy for over stimulated kids, just good food, friends and family.

16 years ago when we opened EVOO Colleen and I thought it would be great to have family Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant.  Having enough space to gather both of our familys and friends together would no longer be a problem.  Back then dinner at my house was not really an option, 800 square feet, a closet sized kitchen and only one bathroom would have made it very difficult for more than just a few people getting together.  Colleen and I both have large familys that get along quite well and we thought it would be great fun to get everyone together without worrying about space.  So a tradition was born.

Every year my parents arrive from Florida, my sister from Saratoga, brother from Maine, most years another brother shows up from Madrid with at least part of his family.  Some years my other sister even shows up from St Augustine, Florida.  Colleen’s family is not as scattered as mine, most of them are still in eastern Massachusetts.  With the exception of a brother who lives in Moultonborough, NH.  To that we add our extended family, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and their family’s.  That’s not it, add to that friends, people we work with who either do not have local family or are not close to them.  We end up with a real rocking family party, with infants,  kids, teenagers, young adults, us middle agers and elders.


Me with my sister Kathleen and Brother Dennis, Dennis is sporting the purple and orange Gobble Gobble Gobble shirt from the road race that we ran earlier in the day.

I obviously cook the main course, a very traditional roast turkey with all the fixings.  Others bring first courses, cheese and desserts.  I order 4 each 25 pound organic turkeys from a farm in southern Vermont.  The days prior to Thanksgiving I prep most of the vegetables, make turkey stock, prep the stuffing.  I always make 2 kinds of stuffing, one is referred to as Harrington Stuffing, plain and boring.  The other changes each year and will be full flavored and interesting.  This year’s was packed  with spiced pork sausage and leeks.


a close-up of the delicious real stuffing.

On Thanksgiving morning there is usually a group of us that run Somerville’s  Gobble Gobble Gobble 4 mile road race.  This year we were surrounded by slackers, only my brother Dennis and I ran the race.  After the race with some combination of mine and Colleen’s brothers and brother-in-law, some of which are professional cooks, show up to do the final cooking.  Roasting the birds, finishing up the vegetables and making gravy.  By the time we are slicing the turkey, beer and wine are pouring freely.


Dennis and I pulling together the last of the dinner prep.


The main course, one of 4 turkeys that were cooked.

We set up a big buffet line and let people have at it (tradition is my mother-in-law, Marilyn Harrington is first in line), replenishing as needed.  For the most part everyone shares in the clean-up.  Kids enjoy pouring soda and bussing tables.  The past few years I have scheduled (paid volunteers) 2 dishwashers to help with the cleaning.  I insist that they join us at the table for dinner.  They get to see how this large dysfunctional American family celebrates it’s uniquely American holiday.


The buffet line showing off 8 year old Shane’s hand written labels.


5 year old Cate showing off her bartending skills.

Inevitably dinner is finished, each year the same group of us ends up watching, with limited interest (unless the Patriots are playing)football.  Friends who had dinner with there own family’s will often stop by for a night cap.


Cate and Julia doing what girls do best, talking.

My 16 year old nephew Zach McCarthy recorded and produced the this time-lapse film documenting our day.


Zach McCarthy

Vegetarian Dishes

First I want to point out that I am not a vegetarian.  Second, I do agree that there are healthful benefits of eating a vegetarian diet. Third, it pisses me off when I dine out at a nice restaurant and they either don’t offer vegetarian dishes or put the obligatory vegetarian pasta or risotto dish on the menu.

Lunch for me is almost always meat free.  Having pizza, sushi, ramen, a sandwich or a burrito is never a problem, that style of restaurant usually offers several vegetarian options that are flavorful and satisfying.  The bitch is at sit down restaurants the vegetarian option is often an after thought; just some lame-ass dish to check off the box.

At EVOO I strive to have interesting vegetarian dishes on the menu.  When coming up with a dish that is not based on animal protein I think whether adding an animal product to the dish would make it better or not.  A great example of this is soup.  If you read recipes in books, magazines or online, the recipes usually calls for chicken stock.  Why? I have no idea.  If you are making a carrot soup why would you want it to taste like chicken, or mushroom soup tasting of beef.  Sure you can make a delicious soup using meat stocks. But, you can also make the same soup just as good, possibly better using vegetable stock.  If you are making corn chowder, make a corn stock, mushroom soup use mushroom stock, after all these are the flavors that you are trying to showcase.

Here are some of our recent vegetarian dishes:

Pumpkin-Smoked Goat Cheese Stuffed Fried Squash Blossom.


Miso Braised Eggplant with Sesame Mashed Potatoes, Apple-Seaweed Salad and Gingered Plum Sauce.

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Baked Sweet Dumpling Squash Filled with Ricotta Cavatelli, Hen-of-the-Woods Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts.


Crisp Fried Eggplant with Curried Tomato Sauce and Yogurt Dressed Cucumber Salad.


Eat your veggies!!

Chefs Collaborative Cookbook


I know I keep barking up the same tree…sustainable this, sustainable that, blah blah blah.  You may think that you have heard enough already, but I don’t.   So, I am climbing up on my soap box once again to tell you about The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook.

The Chefs Collaborative is a nonprofit network of chefs, food professionals and tree huggers who have been bringing chefs and farmers together since 1993.  If you want the full story of who they are and what they do go to their website  chefscollaborative.org.    I am posting now to tell you about the awesome book that they have produced.


I supplied a recipe for the book, which is why they sent me copy.  I have have had recipes in books a number of times and it’s always pretty cool.  But when I picked up their book and started thumbing through it seeing all of the great insightful recipes, I couldn’t put it down.  There is a tremendous amount of information in this book; why organic is better, why organic costs more, how to buy sustainable seafood, what’s the difference between grass fed, grain fed and pastured beef. It answers all these questions and a lot more.

Not only are we going to use this book for it’s great recipes, it will also be a great recourse for us.

The book has a $40 cover price.  However if you go through their website (link above) you can get it from Amazon.com for only $22.

Blue Plate Special


A constant dilemma for us has been trying to determine which seafood is ocean friendly.  One of the few resources available to help us determine which seafood is sustainable is the New England Aquarium.  When the aquarium asked us to be one of a select few restaurants to team up with them in their “Blue Plate Special” initiative, which runs until the end of March, we quickly agreed to do it.   Using sustainable seafood is one of the things we strive to do.   Participating in this promotion is not a big change for us.  We chose a Main Course, added the aquariums Blue Plate Special logo to it, informed our staff about he initiative, that’s about it.  Hopefully this program will get our customers and those of the other participating restaurants to think about their seafood choices.


Our  current Blue Plate Special is – Sweet Soy Glazed Arctic Char Fillet with Dashi Wilted Bok Choy, Sushi Rice and Apple-Pickled Ginger Salad.  We chose arctic char because it is raised in land-based farms in Iceland.  Being land based their environment is very controlled, there is no chance of fish escaping and there is no harm being done to the surrounding natural aquatic systems.  We think of  Arctic Char as a great alternative to farmed salmon.  Of course when wild Alaskan salmon is in season you can count on it being on our menu.

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At the end of the promotion we will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the Blue Plate Special menu item to the aquarium so that they can continue to help keep our oceans blue and fish populations sustainable.

Our Mission

I have often contemplated what our mission is.  The first couple of years it was simple- whatever it takes; 100 hour weeks, no vacation, no pay… just keep your head down and keep going, hopefully everything will work out.  fortunately it did.  Some good reviews and a lot of regular customers made it so I could put more meaning into my work.  The obvious mission is- cook great food in a comfortable setting without any pretense.   For a number of years I have had a good feel for what our mission was, I just couldn’t summarize it into a concise sentence.

Kendall Red Line

We have always been environmentally conscious; recycling, composting, building-out our current EVOO location to meet LEED gold certification etc.  Since our opening we have purchased from local farms.  All of the livestock we serve is humanely raised and local.   We make every effort to only serve sustainable seafood, serve only local beer, source as many top quality organic  / bio-dynamic wines as possible.  You can get some amazing ingredients year round from all over the globe.  However, we choose to get the most from our local producers as possible.  We make pickles and preserves throughout the summer to aid us in extending the local season annually.  I’m sure your getting the point, we try to do things right.


So it finally came to me- a summarized sentence of what our mission is:

To be a sustainable member of our community.

That’s it. To endure, even give back to our community with as little impact on the environment as possible.

Ham Fat Croquettes



Smoking our own hams bring us much more than ham (the meat).  The meat could end up in ham sandwiches, part of a pasta dish or even as a ham steak.  The skin makes a smoky gelatinous stock we often use in pigs skin risotto and soups.  We always place a pan directly under the smoker to collect the drippings (liquid bacon), which finds its way into vinaigrette, sauces and marinades.  The bones get used to make stocks and sauces.

However, the fat that surrounds the ham, often 1 1/2″ to 2″ thick is freaking amazing. Currently on our menu is Ham Fat-Potato Croquettes.  We take two parts diced ham fat and combine it with one part mashed potato, roll it into balls, bread ’em and then fry ’em. We’re serving them with mustard cream and last summer’s pickles.


Sometimes the best dishes come from the parts that either don’t get used or people are hesitant to try.  Ham fat- yum!

Dinner with Shane

A few nights ago I had the pleasure of dining at EVOO with my 7-year-old son Shane.  Shane is an adventurous eater, willing to try to appreciate just about anything.  When we dine out he is likely to order the most esoteric items on the menu; crispy pig’s ears, snails, liver mousse etc.  Shit, he’s been slurping raw oysters since he was 2.  On occasion he has  been known to plop down on the couch, open a can of salt cured anchovies, pile them on crackers, with no other condiments and finish off the can.  I wish I could get some of my staff enjoy eating as much as he does.

People often say his broad palate is because he is my son and that we expose him to these foods, which is partially true.  Colleen, my wife, wouldn’t consider trying many of the foods that Shane eats.  Our 4-year-old daughter Caitlin, who has been exposed to the same foods, would happily enjoy a diet of bagels with cream cheese for breakfast and lunch, followed by macaroni and cheese for dinner every day.  She claims to like very few foods.  However, with some prodding she will try to enjoy most offerings.  But she lacks the gusto that Shane eats with.


Shane is a Cub Scout and we were doing a sleepover at the Boston Science Museum.  He asked if I knew any good restaurants near the science museum that we could go to before the sleepover.  Of course, I suggested EVOO.   He was thrilled to go, it had been quite some time since we last dined there.  I had recently been telling him  that I was thinking of him while I developed our new arctic char dish.  The dish is contains some of his favorite foods, arctic char, smoked arctic char (in a croquette with potatoes), Spanish white anchovies and wilted spinach (yes, he even likes spinach).  He decided that he was going to have that dish before we left the car.  I chose to have a chop from Paula the Mangalitsa  pig.  He also wanted to try the blood sausage.  I told him that I didn’t think we had enough time and that I will bring one home for him to try.

I love watching him eat.  He started in on his plate by putting  the Spanish white anchovies on the side of the plate stating “they’re my favorite, I want to save them for last”.  Then he peeled the skin off the char to eat that first.  He exclaimed “Wow, this is really good, it’s crispy and it’s juicy”.  He shut me down when I asked him to try it.  At home when I cook fish, the kids argue over the skin, I am lucky to get any of it.  So I had expected him to shut me down.  I was very happy to see him enjoying it as much as he did.

We were sitting at one of the high tables that are directly in front of the cooking line.  Carlos, our long time cold line master was working the station that night, there was a new dish that he had not plated before.  So, since I was right there he asked me to show him how to plate it.  No problem, it was Pig’s head terrine (AKA head cheese) with pickled beef tongue salad.  Not surprisingly Shane wanted to try it.  He tried the pickled tongue first, liked it.  Saying  “it’s better than the last time I had it”, which was only a few weeks prior, we got some as part of a gift from the EVOO cooks.  Then he tried the head cheese.  After a few  “mmm that’s really good” we went back to our table to finish up so we could hurry off to be with a couple hundred other 7 and 8 year olds sleeping at the science museum.

Making our way to the car Shane proclaimed  “that cheese stuff is really good”…

Back at EVOO


Well our culinary adventure is know over.  We experienced a lot of great restaurants in NYC.  I look forward to trying to replicate several of the dishes that we tried; including the sunchoke soup at Blue Hill, the fried pig’s foot terrine that we had at Babbo and the salmon crudo we enjoyed at Bar Americain.

I will be working off the effects of the trip for several weeks. It will take many miles and several sober days to loosen the effects. I don’t regret an ounce of my indulgences.

hutchins farm logo

I’m a sucker for some of those chef reality programs including Bravo’s Top Chef.  I was watching an episode about a month ago in which Carla, an obnoxious New Yorker, made an episode winning dish, carrot soup with chicken meatballs.  Not that it’s a very unique or creative dish, it sounded good and got me thinking… (the”…”means I’m thinking), we have gorgeous organic carrots available to us from Hutchins Farm in Concord, MA.  Why don’t we do an EVOO version of her soup.  So, I came up with Carrot-Coconut Soup with Gingered Chicken Meatballs.  It has been a huge hit, we will keep running it for a couple of weeks, unless Hutchins Farm runs out of them sooner.


New York, New York, day 3

The weather was a bit raw and we wanted to trek around the Upper East Side.  So we did something that I have never done in NYC, we took the subway.  I have visited NYC more than twenty times and for whatever reason, have never been on the subway.  Colleen and I visit other cities often and always use their public transportation systems.  I guess in NYC the places that we visit are not too far away from one another.  With the gridded, numbered streets it seems that everything is only a few blocks away.  And I have never waited more than a minute for a taxi.  Anyway we took the subway to the Upper East Side and walked aimlessly for at least two hours.  After a cup of coffee we trained it back to mid-town.


Today’s culinary adventures started at Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain.  We wanted to begin on the lighter side, so we just two had appetizers; Alaskan Salmon Crudo with lime juice, cilantro, scallians and blue corn tortilla crunch and we also had a Crab, Mango, Coconut Cocktail.  It was a nice way to start

Our next stop was Gordon Ramsey’s Maze in the London NYC Hotel.  We did not last long there.  It was all chrome and glitz, not our style.  Though the bathrooms were pretty cool.  One over priced glass of Chardonnay and we were off to Del Posto, another Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich establishment.  Opulent is the best word to describe it.  High ceilings, dark wood, muted toned walls, not-as-comfy-as-they-look banquettes, beautiful flowers, suit wearing servers made you feel as though taking out a second mortgage to dine there would be a good idea.  Once again not really our style.  I was not trying to impress Randy.  We stayed for a glass of wine and a couple of tidbits; some very elegant and tasty lobster-tobiko tea sandwiches and these creamy yet crunchy little mozzarella things.  And we were off.


Next stop,was only a few steps away, in the same building.  Colicchio and Sons.  Yet another Tom Colicchio restaurant, was more our style with lots of brick, high ceilings, funky light fixtures and floor to ceiling windows over looking the meatpacking district.  We sat at the bar order whipped lardo on toast with some tangy yet sweet relish that I have know idea what the orange-ish main ingredient was.  Dried apricots?  We also got a bowl of slightly too lemony grilled squid and octopus with beans and watercress.  We finished our food and beer and headed back to Greenich Village.


Momofoku Ssam Bar, One of David Chang’s restaurants was our next stop.  Jon one of EVOO’s former cooks (whom I have mentioned in earlier posts) is a cook here.  We wanted to have dinner there while he was cooking.  We ordered a bunch of stuff, some of my favorites were pork buns, apple kimchee, thin sliced beef tendon and almost too spicy rice cakes.


After dinner we walked about a block, went into a random bar figuring we would have  couple of beers and to catch up with Jon.  Sitting at the bar was another former EVOO cook, Nick.  Whats even more coincidental is that Nick happens to be working the same position as Jon is at another one of David Chang’s restaurants.  It was just one of those weird things.

More tipsy than we (at least I) desired to be, we headed back to the hotel for a few hours of sleep. The morning was going to come too quickly…