First Look Inside Moderno, John des Rosiers’ Highland Park Italian Trendsetter

Moderno chef Phil Rubino.

We tell John des Rosiers that when Nellcôte was clearing out every trace of Marché, they kept one little fragment of the wall art like a piece of Roman fresco. “We’re not keeping anything of Rosebud here,” he says, referring to the location’s previous tenant. Everything about Moderno, his sleekly, well, modern Italian bar and restaurant in Highland Park, is designed to change any lingering impression of Italian food as being about limp pastas and acid red sauces, grotesque portions and mamma mia! clichés. Des Rosiers, chef-owner of Inovasi and the Wisma chain of prepared food shops, and executive chef Phil Rubino are out to reinvent Italian food for the north shore with housecured meats from Becker Lane pork, housemade pastas and pizzas, and unexpected seasonal ingredients like blueberries in your linguini. We stopped in before a friends and family dinner this week and checked out the brightly chic space, a few of the dishes, and Rubino and crew hard at work in the shining steel kitchen; see our slideshow below.