No shortage of swine: gastropub set for April opening

Mar 13, 2017

If you were to walk into the Cask & Pig Kitchen and Alehouse this week, you would find men paneling the outer wall, crew testing the lighting inside, and paint samples piled in the center of what what will be a 240-seat dining area.

Despite construction delays, Dartmouth’s first gastropub is set to open in early April, with 24 craft beers on draft, more than 20 televisions, and a woodfire grill and smoker.

“We’ll have plenty of TVs, but the focus isn’t just sports. It’s food and craft beer,” said owner Mario Ribeiro.

Ribeiro isn’t new to the restaurant business. He has 20 years experience under his belt, and in 2001, he bought The Pasta House. Although Ribeiro will continue to run the Fairhaven hub, the Dartmouth High grad and Bakerville resident has always wanted to open a place in town.

“Around here, it’s so saturated with chain restaurants. To have a small, family-owned, it’s going to do great here,” said Ribeiro.

Ribeiro started working with New Bedford native Chef Jose Rego — as seen on Cutthroat Kitchen and Chopped — about six years ago, but in the past year, they started brainstorming the State Road gastropub.

The concept of a pub with high quality food stems from England, and so does the restaurant’s name, Ribeiro explained.

“Cask beer… it’s an old English style of tap beer,” he said. As for the latter half of the gastropub’s name, Ribeiro explained, “We’re going to feature all different parts of the pig on the menu.”

The 38-item menu will include pork belly, pork ribs, pulled pork, smoked pork chops, and pork shank, along with other New England favorites like fish and wings.

“The Wicked Big Pork Shank is my favorite. [Rego] braises it so it falls off the bone,” said Ribeiro. He noted that following the restaurant’s opening, he and Rego plan to grow the menu to about 55 items.

“What differentiates us from other gastropubs is that we have a wood grill, rotisserie, and smoker,” said Rego, noting the infinite combos of meat. Plus, there will be eight different kind of sauces, including the Carolina Reaper Pepper Barbecue (made with the hottest pepper in the world).

Guests that can swallow 12 wings lathered with the sweat-inducing sauce will make it into the pub’s Hall of Fame, Rego said, noting that the challenge will be one of the whimsical menu items targeting the nearby university students.

To cool the palate, patrons can try any of the 24 craft beers on tap, about 12 specialty cocktails, and wine.

“A lot of the best beer right now is coming from these small breweries in New England.” said Ribeiro, noting that many of the drafts, vodkas, and rums will be locally sourced.

Between the selection and the renowned chef, Ribeiro is expecting a crowd, which is why future projects will include adding more spaces to the 100-car parking lot and, in 2018, an outdoor patio.

“I’m going to be nervous when we first open because I know we’re going to be hit really hard,” he said. “We’re not trying to rush anything. We want to make sure it’s done right.”

For now, guests can expect copper-finished walls, rustic oak trim, high top seating and booths, and a chef’s bar that seats four in the 6,000 square-foot space. Barn doors will also close off two spaces for private dining in the otherwise designated family-friendly area.

Cask & Pig will open at 780 State Road. Its hours will be Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight.