All good things must come to an end. That’s what the residents of Jamaica Plain are telling themselves as Sorella’s—a breakfast staple in the community for almost four decades—prepares to serve up its last meal on March 31.
Sorella’s has been a favorite of generations of JP residents, who can be seen waiting in a line that snakes around the corner to score one of the coveted tables at 386-388 Centre St. in Hyde Square.
During its impressive run, the restaurant was perhaps best known for its elaborate menu, spanning several pages. Sorella’s pushed the boundaries of brunch cuisine, offering decadent pancakes that were more dessert than breakfast and savory omelets pregnant with fresh cheese and overflowing with vegetables.
Sorella’s invited customers to choose their own adventure, whether they came in for a quick egg bagel and a cup of joe, or wanted to tackle the coma-inducing Ben’s Thunder—raspberry, banana, walnut pancakes loaded with whipped cream, strawberries, coconut and spices. In addition to the dizzying menu, last-minute creations were scribbled on chalkboards, hoping to entice the daring diner.
A lot of places that offer such a diverse and creative menu also have prices to match. But Sorella’s always aimed to keep their food affordable and their atmosphere down-to-earth, catering to families with children, and college students seeking some carb-heavy fare after a night of too much drinking. The mint green, and black checkered floor, pastel-colored walls and unassuming decor was reminiscent of a simpler time.
In fact, the original aesthetic remained largely untouched since sisters Antoinette and Ellie Elias opened the diner in 1983 and aptly named it Sorella’s (“sister’s” in Italian). The spot soon became a hit among locals.
In the 80s, Jamaica Plain looked much different than it does today. It was underdeveloped and known for its high crime rate. Few people wanted to visit, much less open a business there. Sorella’s was a pioneer in that sense.
“My sister and I were happy to have paved the way for other businesses in Hyde Square when nobody else wanted to do business here,” said Antoinette in an interview with the Gazette.
Rumors of the hidden gem started to spread to other neighborhoods and Sorella’s eventually became well known throughout the city. In 2002, an addition was built next door to accommodate the ever-growing crowds.
“Late Mayor Menino, Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez and other local representatives were frequent visitors and friends,” said Antoinette.
When Ellie passed away in 2015, Antoinette took over, but by this point she was already running Dedham Diner, which she opened in 2009. Juggling the two properties was a lot to handle, and Antoinette decided it was the right time to bid Sorella’s addio.
“It was a wonderful run,” said Antoinette. “Not many people get to see their dream realized. My sister Ellie and I were very fortunate.”
Antoinette also expressed her gratitude to the locals who kept Sorella’s in business for almost half a century.
“On behalf of my late sister Ellie, myself and her children, we would like to thank all our patrons from the past 36 years, who made us all feel like family in such a close-knit neighborhood,” she said.
Antoinette also extended a personal thanks to her nephew Bruce and her cook Sandra, who “have been instrumental, especially in the last few years.”
It is still unclear who or what will occupy the space with the iconic forest-green awning in Hyde Square. But until the last day of the month, residents can still grab a muffin and say farewell to a community hub where a lifetime of memories have been made. Their hours through March 31 are Thursday through Sunday from 7am to 1pm.
Fans of Sorella’s can also take comfort knowing that Antoinette’s Dedham Diner is just a twenty-minute drive away and features a small venue similar to when Sorella’s first opened. Antoinette hopes to be able to expand her current menu in the future.