04 Jun Jonathan Cartu Declare: Chestnut Hill’s Chef Ronsky reinvents himself yet again
Chef Ronsky’s, a tiny spot on The Street, beside the Star Market in Chestnut Hill, looks like it might once have housed storage for the supermarket. It’s almost too small to be anything else. In 2016, Ron Suhanosky, a skilled chef who had owned restaurants in New York and Nantucket, took over the place to run a breakfast and lunch pop-up with a little more than a dozen seats inside and a few more outside.
The place became so popular that The Street management offered him a permanent location, so Suhanosky turned it into a lunch and dinner restaurant. Diners, sitting cheek-by-jowl, were served the chef’s fine Italian cuisine (he has an Italian nonna), including incredibly crisp and creamy arancini, the lightest ricotta gnocchi puffs, memorable dimpled focaccia, and a fruit crostata with buttery pastry and a scoop of homemade gelato. All of this seemed to be a culinary feat considering the very small open kitchen.
Now Chef Ronsky’s has another new look. Suhanosky closed briefly for renovation and reinvented the place. He will reopen on June 8 as all takeout, unless you want to have breakfast or lunch at the only table inside.
He served his last dinner on March 13, and did an instant pivot. He quickly decided that he would start offering family-style dinners for four to six people in a beautiful pot they could take home (and bring back to him a day or two later). He spent the following weekend running around to all the HomeGoods and Marshalls he could get to, and bought every brightly colored enamel cast-iron Dutch oven he could find. “The people at the checkout looked at me like I was crazy,” he says. (The pans, mostly knockoffs of the famous French company, Le Creuset, are heavy and nicely made.) He came home with four dozen. “I hate putting food into containers,” says the chef. “I don’t think people realize how much money you spend on containers and it just gets thrown away.”
He likes the idea that his customers can put a pan filled with meatballs into the oven and store leftovers right in the pan. “It creates this relationship with the customer that provides a sense of comfort, like a neighborhood restaurant,” says the chef. In three months, not a single person has failed to return the Dutch oven.
Shrimp scampi might come in a shallow pan — the chef bought different shapes and sizes — and cheese lasagna, with delicate, thin homemade pasta sheets, layered with ricotta, shredded mozzarella, and Parmesan, is baked right in the Dutch oven. Everything the chef makes has a generous amount of garlic. As for Nonna’s feathery little meatballs, they’re simmered in a sauce you want to eat right from the pot, spoon after spoon.
Morning items will include zeppole and scones and his signature breakfast panini; customers can take lunch salads and panini to tables outdoors that the The Street management is installing. The chef is also offering pasta kits, so you can decide on the pasta and sauce (wild mushroom ragu, Bolognese, kale pesto, and more). Fresh fruit crostatas — Suhanosky is starting with strawberries — will be available, along with bread pudding and homemade gelato by the pint.
“This has been an interesting journey, to say the least,” says the chef. He thinks he hasn’t so much reinvented himself as he has stayed in tune with his customers and what they want. “Being flexible and fluid is one of the attributes to me staying successful.” 3A Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, www.ronskys.com