Louis Dibiccari wanted to stay open. But the day before Massachusetts made the call to close all restaurants and bars for at least three weeks, his conscience got to him.
“I went in that day fully intending to open like I usually do,” the bar and art gallery owner explained. “I walked in, flipped on the lights, and immediately knew I couldn’t do it. CREATE’s a small space and usually the intimacy is a draw, but I just didn’t feel good about promoting congregating like that.”
The Lynnfield, Mass. native has been part of the Boston culinary industry for more than 20 years. He’s always exhibited a wide view of the role food and drink can play in bringing people together, as well as curiosity about collaboration between the gifted players in his industry and those in fine art.
Dibiccari ultimately shuttered his wildly successful Fort Point neighborhood anchor Tavern Road in August 2017 to work full-time on his most-prized project: CREATE Boston, a kind of festival in which teams each made up of an artist, a chef, and a bartender would collaborate on interactive exhibitions. Two years later, Dibiccari distilled the spirit of the event into a cozy second-floor bar and art gallery by the same name in Sommerville’s Bow Market.
Now, just six months after it opened, CREATE is on hold like other art galleries and bars across the country.
“We’ll be back, but I’m trying to do what I can until then. I actually put the artists’ work we had in the space up on Etsy, a sentence I never thought I’d be saying” Dibiccari laughed. “It’s funny. I walked away from restaurants two years ago and now with all this time on my hands I find some relief in the kitchen again. I’m staying conscious about waste and finding ways to rig equipment in weird places in the house. Just trying to have fun and ride it out.”
Dibiccari suggests his meatball recipe for a bite that brings some comfort. Pair it with his low-fuss twist on rum and coke for an evening you won’t mind spending on your couch.
Louis Dibiccari’s Meatballs
2 lbs ground chuck
4 oz ground pork
4 oz chicken liver mousse*
2 oz roasted garlic
1 oz Frates Parmesan
1 oz salt
.25 tspn chili flakes
2 whole eggs
.5 cup bread crumbs
*Double the portion of ground pork if chicken liver mousse is unavailable or undesired.
Mix all ingredients by hand in a large bowl and lightly form the balls with your hand so that they’re approximately 1-1.5 inches in diameter. Roast them on a rack in the oven or simmer in tomato sauce on the stovetop
Louis Dibiccari’s Smoked Rum and Cherry Coke
1.5 oz Stolen smoked rum
4 oz coke original
Splash of Luxardo Maraschino Originale
Combine ingredients in a glass of your choice half-filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a lemon wedge.