HYDE SQ.—The Aurum Restaurant, a creative diner with artwork-strewn walls that is located at 377 Centre St., was a dream that turned into reality in six weeks.
During that time, general manager Andrea Belanger and owner Matt Virzi developed the concept, aesthetic and menu for the diner, which specializes in calzone-type pies. Sitting in the back of their minds was the fact that neither of them was collecting a paycheck.
“It was a whirlwind,” said Belanger during a sit-down interview at Aurum. There was a bustling afternoon business happening, forcing Belanger to occasionally leave the interview and help out.
Aurum, which opened Jan. 12, replaces a Kennedy Fried Chicken that used to be at the location. Virzi said the change happened so fast, people are asking, “What did this place used to be?”
“Aurum” is the Latin word for “gold.”
“The name came about through brainstorming words that could be associated with social wealth or that could evoke the idea,” Belanger said. “We think that to have social wealth, or to be socially wealthy, is to feed your life with rich experiences, people, places, food, art, etcetera.”
Belanger and Virzi have known each other for three years, having met while working together at another Jamaica Plain diner. Belanger said that the two are “kind of a natural fit,” with a yin-yang relationship. Belanger works in the front of the diner, while Virzi is out back in the kitchen.
“Matt has been a huge mentor to me, as well as a friend,” said Belanger.
The idea for the restaurant was born on the back of JP porch. Belanger was telling Virzi one night he needed to do what makes him happy. He asked her to help him open a restaurant and was soon looking for the right property in JP.
But the pickings were slim and Virzi told Belanger he might do something else. Lady luck stepped in and Virzi and Belanger were soon crafting the concept for Aurum.
Virzi and Belanger grew up in Worcester and Fall River, respectively, eating meat and spinach pies. Belanger’s dad suggested that the restaurant have pies, as it would probably be something new to the area. The pies have become Aurum signature dish and are filled with fresh, local ingredients.
“The pies are childhood memories we could bond with,” said Belanger.
The Aurum pies are shaped like a pizza slice and have the look of a calzone, which Andrea said a lot of customers compare them with. The pies have Syrian dough, which is made with milk instead of water. One pie is the BGT, which is filled with smoked bacon, goat cheese and tomato.
Belanger, who is in a band and is a writer, said she wants Aurum to become “a gathering spot of sorts.” She said they are in the process of getting an entertainment license and hope to have music three times a week. Belanger said they also hope to have a new artist on the wall every month.
For more information, call 617-522-3377 or see facebook.com/aurumrestaurant.