Opened in February 2019, Fox & the Knife is a pioneer of elevated dining in the South Boston neighborhood. It was also the first solo restaurant from Chef Karen Akunowicz, who made a name for herself in Boston and beyond when she earned the title of James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in the Northeast in 2018 while she was executive chef at Myers + Chang.
Tucked off the corner of West Broadway and Dorchester Avenue, Fox & the Knife welcomes diners into a cozy Amaro-centric bar and a menu showcasing traditional Italian food inspired by Chef Akunowicz’s year of living in Modena. “From Torino to Napoli, I always knew that when I opened my own restaurant it would be representative of my time there,” shares Akunowicz, who brought that dream to life more than a decade later.
Though it’s since been joined by a series of trendy overhauls in the neighborhood, including Akunowicz’s second restaurant, Bar Volpe, just 2.5 blocks down the street; today, Fox & the Knife still shines as a beacon of culinary brilliance in Southie. Both a neighborhood favorite and destination for those traveling from afar, it’s often challenging to find a reservation on any given weekend, though the restaurant does reserve space for walk-ins and the bar is first come, first serve.
The wait is worth it though for dishes like the whole fish with salsa verde and tagliatelle bolognese – here’s what to order during your next meal at Fox & the Knife directly from Chef Akunowicz herself.
Starters and Small Bites
Fried chili chickpeas
Often overlooked for the plethora of starches available throughout Italy, chickpeas are a key ingredient in a popular street food from the north to south. In Liguria, farinata is a fried savory pancake and in Sicily, panelle is served as bite-sized fritters. At Fox & the Knife, Akunowicz honors the chickpea as a “humble snack,” frying them and tossing them with chili spice under the aperitivo menu. “Once you have them, you will order them every single time that you come in,” she shares on the addicting, savory treat.
Taleggio Stuffed Focaccia
Oozing with mozzarella and taleggio cheese (a semisoft, strong aroma but buttery taste) this dish is “what dreams are made of,” says Akunowicz. The decadent dish is meant for sharing, but don’t be surprised if you want to hoard a few slices for yourself.
Panzanella di Finocchio
With Tuscan and Umbrian origins, traditionally, panzanella is a chopped salad of vinegarette-soaked stale bread, onions and tomatoes but at Fox & the Knife, Akunowicz brightens the antipasti recipe with pomegranate and sumac. These unique additions “elevate it and take it to another level,” she shares of the fresh and fruity combination that is the perfect way to start a meal.
A rotating selection of handmade pastas are found under the “primi” portion of the menu, but Akunowicz’s Bolognese, made with wild boar, thyme and Parmesan Reggiano, is a mainstay. “It’s one of my absolute signature dishes and my favorite pasta dish that I make,” she says. “I could eat this almost every day and never get tired of it.”
Pollo al Mattone
Akunowicz reintroduces diners to sumac in this “secondi” dish of roast chicken prepared under a brick: “It seems simple but it is perfectly prepared and melts in your mouth.” The chicken is served in a rosemary brown butter that mouthwateringly combines with the Escarole, which Akunowicz refers to as “the secret star” of this dish.
“I will never take this dish off the menu,” prefaces Akunowicz of this whole branzino served with salsa verde and pickled lemons. “It has far too many devoted fans and is one of the top dishes ordered.”
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