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Front Street: Don’t Mess with Perfection

by Rebecca M. Alvin

Top Image: Front Street co-owners Chef Omar Neil and Marianella Neil. Photo: Rebecca M. Alvin

For decades Front Street has offered Provincetown diners an intimate, romantic space to enjoy classic Italian meals, many of which were handed down through the generations to Donna Aliperti, who bought the restaurant in 1987 and owned it with partner Kathleen Cotter. But in 2020, the restaurant sold to Omar Neil and his wife Marianella, both of whom have worked in the restaurant business in Provincetown for 20 years, including at the old Clem & Ursie’s, the Red Inn, as well as Front Street. They previously owned the card store Norma Glamp’s, which they sold to buy Front Street. Omar is now the chef and credits everything he knows about food to 20 years of working with great chefs in Provincetown, including Aliperti, and learning from them. The plan is to keep Front Street mostly how it’s been for over 30 years.

Right off the bat, the Neils faced twin challenges of being first-time restaurant owners and taking over an established restaurant during a pandemic where change was a constant element, forcing them to pivot this way and that without losing the unique qualities that make Front Street one of Provincetown’s best-loved dining spots.

Tea Smoked Duck Photo: Rebecca M. Alvin

“It’s been very interesting, to say the least,” Omar says smiling. “It was constant changes. It was kind of evolving from not knowing what to expect to not expecting anything.”

The challenges continue, although of course things are getting better and better. As Omar puts it, “Now we can set the tables. We couldn’t do that last week!”

He adds that Aliperti and Cotter have been there helping them through this uniquely challenging transition. But, as Marianella points out, because they couldn’t do things the way they had always been done, it gave the couple a chance to learn about every single aspect and think on their feet.

Seafood Fra Diablo Photo: Rebecca M. Alvin

Asked what changes the couple plan to bring to the Front Street menu, Omar is cautious, explaining that Front Street patrons love the menu as it is, and with the exception of seasonal menu items and a continental menu that has always complemented the core Italian one, no one is keen to tamper with perfection.  Everything about Front Street is “old-school” in the best sense; even the orders are still taken by hand with no computer system. It’s these little things that add up to a special vibe here, but ultimately it’s the food that matters most. Featured dishes include herb-crusted rack of lamb and tea-smoked duck, two customer favorites the Neils wouldn’t dream of taking off the menu.

“With the customers here, they know what they want and they do not accept too many changes at once so we try to just gradually add new things: drink specials, food specials, the decor a little bit, like we just did the floors, so it’s small, gradual things, bring some fresh energy in but not change it too much” Omar explains.

Both owners say in the process of buying the place, there were many requests from customers who worried that their favorites would be removed from the menu. “I drive from Rhode Island for that rack of lamb,” laughs Marianella, quoting a customer.

“It doesn’t need change,” Omar says.

“It’s been working so far,” agrees Marianella.

The menu also features many eggplant, seafood, veal, pasta, and vegetarian options, along with house specialties made from recipes handed down from Aliperti’s grandmother. Appetizers like Shrimp & Grits—herb grilled shrimp on polenta—combine traditional Italian flavors in lovely, fresh ways.

Photo: Rebecca M. Alvin

“It’s classic Italian food. And we have the continental menu, which allows us to do other stuff, American style food, and just to be creative,” Omar explains.

Currently, you’ll find on the seasonally changing continental menu pan-seared swordfish served with cannellini beans, escarole, and roasted tomatoes, gorgonzola stuffed Angus filet mignon, and chicken braciole, for just a few examples.

All of this is served in an old-world atmosphere where basket lighting creates stunning shadows, booths and tables provide secluded spaces for private conversation and enjoyment with the friends, lovers, or family members you’ve come here to be with. The brick walls are adorned with beautiful artwork, some by former owner Cotter. Naturally, as we still wind our way through whatever path the COVID-19 pandemic cuts for us, Front Street also offers outside dining for those who prefer the open air.

“We’re an old-school, classic Italian restaurant,” summarizes Omar. And then he laughs and adds, “owned by two Jamaicans.”

Front Street is open from 5:30 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday with both indoor and outdoor dining, as well as curbside to-go service. For information and reservations call 508.487.9715 or visit

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Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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Phone: + 1 508-487-1000 ext 6
[email protected] 14 Center St. Provincetown MA, 02657