For five decades, the State Theater also known as the Milton Cinema served as the entertainment destination for the East Milton community providing showings of classic films such as “Ben-Hur,” “West Side Story” and “Jaws.” Unfortunately, as the new multiplex cinemas started to open, a single screen theater could no longer compete, and the theater closed its doors in 1987. The cinema sat empty for years and was used as a storage facility for Abby Park co-owner, Vance Welch’s Java Jo’s cafe. A devastating fire in 2007 rendered the space unusable, and the building had been unoccupied since.
A Milton real estate firm – Falconi Companies – with strong personal ties to the area, purchased the building in 2014 and has started a major renovation of the old theater building and surrounding space. To address a well-documented issue of parking in East Milton Square and to further demonstrate their financial commitment to the project, Falconi Companies purchased two adjacent homes behind the building and converted the land to restaurant parking.
After careful consideration of the history of the building and the unmet needs of the community, a casual Italian restaurant concept was developed with prominent designer Steve Todisco, who has designed other visually-appealing restaurant spaces, such as Boston’s Davio’s restaurant and Abby Park. Steve was able to make great use of the space showcasing the 23-foot ceiling of the former movie theater. His design also inspired: a large island bar with access through glass-folding doors to a beautiful courtyard, a display “stage” kitchen, and a large movie screen (for viewing sporting events and live video streaming of restaurant and community events). Steve also designed a wine room with wood beams and rustic lighting to host small parties, and has ensured that the Adams Street entry will retain the character of the movie theater while also providing a takeout area for menu items.
The culinary team is led by Executive Chef Anthony DeRienzo who incorporates elements of his Italian heritage in a menu that is appealing and approachable. Tony’s passion for cooking was ignited at a young age thanks in large part to his Italian mother, Raffaela. At Johnson and Wales, DeRienzo refined his talents and upon graduating in 1994 he joined the culinary staff at Ambrosia. Over the next few years Tony thrived under the leadership of such renowned chefs as Tony Ambrose of Ambrosia on Huntington and Lydia Shire of Biba, Scampo, Pignoli, and others. Novara rivals the quality and authenticity of Boston’s North End restaurants in a suburban setting while remaining a casual neighborhood bar and restaurant.