Board doles out full liquor licenses to lucky North End restaurants

The Boston Licensing Board this week granted valuable full-liquor licenses to several North End restaurants that say they need to fend off advances from fancier places on the waterfront.

But with only a total of ten of the new licenses to dole out - and several of those already awarded - the board also denied requests from several restaurants in the North End, on the waterfront and in some other neighborhoods.

The winners of one of the new licenses - which are worth more than $300,000 on the open market - include Cantina Italiana on Hanover Street, possibly the neighborhood's oldest restaurant, Frank DiPasquale's Mare on Mechanic Court and Monica's Trattoria on Prince Street.

Also winning the valuable licenses: Antonio's, an Italian restaurant on Cambridge Street at the foot of Beacon Hill, Earl's in the Prudential Center, which promised Bar Boulud quality food and drinks at Cheesecake Factory prices, Lolita at 253 Summer St., Yotel, an impending hotel on Seaport Boulevard and Scorpion at 25 Northern Blvd.

Losing their bids are the still unopened Ben Cotto on Hanover Street - whose owner said he needed a license to help recoup the life savings he's poured into renovations - Ducali Pizzeria on Causeway Street, which has a beer and wine license, Antico Forno on Salem Street, which also lost a bid to transfer its beer and wine license to a cafe further down the street.

The board is still considering a full-liquor requests from Carmelina's on Hanover Street. And the board deferred action on a request from Scopa, 319 Hanover St., making its third attempt to win a beer and wine license.

Non-North End losers include Nicki Greek Kitchen on Brookline Avenue, which has a beer and wine license, Aloft Lounge on D Street and Haley Henry, a proposed restaurant at 45 Province St. downtown whose owner, Haley Fortier, said would be Boston's first wine-bar restaurant featuring locally sourced beers, wines, meat and fish.

The board deferred action on requests from the Retreat, a proposed restaurant on Sumner Street in Jeffreys Point, East Boston, whose owner says she needs the license as collateral for a loan to complete the upscale, 75-seat restaurant.

Restaurants that did not get a license can try to buy one on the open market, or wait until next January, when the board will get the authority to issue another five all-alcohol licenses.

Allston to get a little spicier after midnight

The Boston Licensing Board yesterday approved a request from Mala, 129 Brighton Ave., to extend its closing time from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The restaurant successfully argued there's a public need for spicy Sichuan food in the night-owlish neighborhood because nobody else is currently serving such hot food that late at night.

Both the mayor's office and City Councilor Mark Ciommo (Allston/Brighton) supported the extended hours.

Caribbean restaurant in Four Corners gets full liquor license

The Boston Licensing Board voted yesterday to let Levi's Restaurant, 323 Washington St., add cocktails and hard liquor to the beer and wine it was already allowed to serve.

The move means residents who want to unwind with something stronger than a glass of wine after work will no longer have to make the long trek down to the Ashmont Grill, the Ledge (now ester) or the Banshee, one Four Corners resident said at a hearing on Wednesday.

The license upgrade, which still has to be approved by the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, is to one of the restricted neighborhood licenses intended for places such as Levi's, which could not afford the six-figure prices full-liquor licenses now command on the open market. Should Levi's close, the license would revert back to the city.

Owner Levi George "doesn't have the $200,000, $300,000, the outrageous numbers for these transactions," his attorney, Danilo Avalon, said.

Several residents traveled downtown on a weekday morning to praise George, not just for his food, but for the jazz nights he hosts as well as his donations to local community programs.

New trial ordered for man convicted of killing Roxbury girl by shooting her in the face with a shotgun

A Suffolk Superior Court judge has ordered a new trial for Joseph Cousin, convicted of second-degree murder for the the 2002 death of Trina Persad, 10, because of a possible conflict of interest on his lawyer's part.

The Suffolk County District Attorney's office is appealing the ruling.

In 2009, a Suffolk Superior Court jury agreed with prosecutors that Cousin, a member of the Magnolia-Intervale-Columbia gang, killed Persad in Jermaine Goffigan Park - itself named for a child murdered in a gang battle - when he fired at a member of rival gang. An earlier trial had ended in a mistrial after the judge learned that several jury members had lied about their past criminal activities.

Cousin was sentenced to life with the chance for parole in 15 years. He also received another 15-year sentence for other offenses.

Cousin's lawyer during the second trial, William White, had once represented a Boston Police homicide detective in a federal lawsuit involving a 1997 murder investigation.

The detective was not assigned to the homicide unit when Persad was murdered and took no part in the investigation, but Judge Janet Sanders ruled that was enough of a potential conflict that he should never have been appointed to represent Cousins.

In a statement, DA Dan Conley said:

We disagree in the strongest possible terms with this decision. We will argue that its legal and factual foundations are so flawed as to warrant reversal.

The record makes clear that Attorney White’s involvement in those civil proceedings had effectively ended by the time of the Cousin trial. Moreover, it shows that he never held back in defense of his client. Like his predecessor counsel, he attacked the police investigation aggressively. That he secured a second-degree murder verdict where prosecutors argued so effectively for a first-degree conviction shows his effectiveness as a zealous advocate.

BRA approves new West End tower

Architect's rendering.

The BRA board yesterday approved a 44-story apartment building behind the Boston Garden over the objection of neighboring residents worried about traffic.

The proposed $350-million Garden Garage building will have roughly 470 apartments and 775 parking spaces in an underground garage. As concessions, Equity Residential will increase its original $6.8-milion contribution to the BRA's affordable-housing fund to $8 million and will throw $1 million at traffic improvements in the area around North Station - which is experiencing a building boom.

Police: Gun battle inside Dorchester home followed by confrontation with police; one dead, two injured

Fri, 02/12/2016 - 10:30

Boston Police report one man is dead and two are injured following an incident inside 107 Devon St. and just outside around 10:25 a.m. Read more.

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Flying manhole cover hits, kills driver on I-93 at end of southbound O'Neill Tunnel

The remains of the car on the Expressway. Photo by Ben.

State Police report a manhole on the southbound side of the O'Neill Tunnel became dislodged and went airborne - flying right into the windshield of a car and killing the driver.

The heavy metal cover then flew out the back window of the car.

After impact, the vehicle continued southbound in the left lane of Route 93 reaching near the area of East Berkeley street before hitting the wall on the left shoulder and coming to a stop. What caused the manhole to become dislodged is part of the ongoing investigation.

State Police say the driver was a woman, but did not release any other information.

In 2006, a woman died in a Big Dig tunnel when a ceiling slab fell on her car.

If you're driving around with four pounds of heroin, you might want to obey the traffic laws

State Police report a man's bad driving led to his arrest for heroin trafficking Wednesday afternoon.

State Police say a trooper spotted a guy ignore a stop sign from Old Road onto Columbia Road shortly before 6 p.m. Also, he didn't signal for the right turn from the popular shortcut from Blue Hill Avenue to Columbia Road.

[Trooper Sean Healy] pulled the vehicle over and, following a subsequent investigation located an illegal substance, what was believed to be heroin, on the driver, Alex Hernandez, 37, of Roxbury. Further investigation located a container filled with a brown powder, later weighed at 4 pounds, of what is believed to be heroin inside the vehicle. Trooper Healy additionally located and seized $1,757 in cash.

Hernandez was charged with heroin trafficking, possession of false RMV documents, furnishing a false name and, of course, failure to stop and failure to signal.

Innocent, etc.

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