Interview with Jen Ziskin

Jen Ziskin, Restauranteur and Certified Sommelier, talks about her favorite countries to visit, her go-to wines, and her reasons for opening up a restaurant. She also shares words of wisdom for aspiring restauranteurs!

Lauren — Travel and Write Today: I know you started working in the restaurant business when you were fifteen years old, but when did you and Josh decide to open a restaurant of your own?

Jen Ziskin: I worked in the restaurant industry up through Graduate School. After college, I decided to look for jobs as a server, but ended up landing an opportunity in management. My husband Josh and I met because our moms grew up together and our grandmothers “set us up”. They were best friends and felt since we were both in the biz we should meet…He studied management, and then went to culinary school. I started teaching, and when we had our third child, he decided to opened La Morra. 

After we opened La Morra, I never went back to teaching, because he he needed my assistance and I was pulled back into the draw of the hospitality industry.

TWT: What is one of your favorite countries to visit? 

JZ: Italy is my all-time favorite country – we lived there right after we were married, so Josh could train as a chef. I was a nanny on a Vineyard, and this is where I learned a lot about wine. We’ve led food and wine tours throughout Italy (Sicily, Tuscany, Piedmont, etc.). More recently, I discovered Portugal – we did our last food and wine tour here before the pandemic. I feel an incredible connection to Portugal, and we’ve already been back three times. Each region is unique to itself, and since it is so small, you can see most of the country in one trip.

TWT: What is one of your favorite places to visit in New England?

JZ: We take an annual trip to Nantucket – it’s always fun to go, and the restaurants are amazing. Going away with family is so important – we also spend time on Cape Cod. When we aren’t working we like to spend a lot of time with family.

TWT: What are some of your go-to restaurants:

JZ: Our two go-to restaurants are The James (Needham), and Sycamore (Newton Centre). These restaurants have great good, and amazing cocktails! Now that we are back in Brookline, we love going to these restaurants on the way home!

TWT: Where is your new restaurant?

JZ: We opened Punch Bowl, in the new Hilton Garden Inn in Brookline. The restaurant and outside patio is on the first floor and we have an amazing event space that seats up to 80 guests and an outside terrace for our raw bar, and to hold events.

TWT: We are so excited to visit!

TWT: What is your go-to coffee order? 

JZ: Iced coffee (even a day old iced coffee) – I love bitter coffee. Just a black iced coffee. No sweeteners, sugar, or milk. Even on a winter day I will have an iced coffee.

TWT: It’s so funny, I am the opposite. Even on a 95-degree day, I will have a hot coffee!

TWT: What are some of your go-to wines?

JZ: Portuguese wines, especially Douro – Wine & Soul is one of my favorite wineries. Specifically, their red, Manoella – silky and elegant. I also love Italian wines – a great Barolo with some age on it – particularly Cannubi, from Marchesi di Barolo, the winery I nannied for when we lived in Italy.

I’m a Chardonnay drinker, and Alex Gambal is one of my favorite producers. I’ve always loved his wines from Burgundy!

Lastly, I love Willamette Valley wines – Winderlea is my go-to – the winemakers used to live in Medfield, MA. Their wines are incredible.

TWT: Where is your favorite spot to watch a sunrise/sunset? 

JZ: The sunsets at Heritage of Sherborn – we are getting incredible, bright colorful skies there. I love to go outside and see the bright pink skies.

For sunrises, it’s Hull – they have incredible sunrises right over the ocean.

TWT: What is your favorite book?

JZ: I read a lot, and I have been in a book group since my kids were little. I love reading about things that capture me into the story so I don’t have to think about anything – anything that lets me escape real life.

The book, No Ordinary Times (Doris Kearns Goodwin), inspired me to go into teaching.

TWT: What advice would you give to aspiring restaurant owners?

JZ: An aspiring restauranteur should do absolutely every job in the restaurant industry before opening a restaurant – bus tables, bartend, work in the kitchen, host, etc. Do every job possible, and be willing to do every single job. Also, get a business degree (having a business background would be incredibly helpful). My education background helps with managing staff, but I definitely recommend a business degree. 

TWT: I know restaurants have been significantly impacted due to the pandemic. How can we help? 

JZ: Just Continue to dine out, and have patience. So many people have left the industry, and with many new employees this is their first job in a restaurant. Please have patience when you are dining in a restaurant.

Side note: When you visit one of our restaurants ask if I am there – I love helping guests with the wine list!

*All photos by Topher Cox*

Follow Jen Ziskin and all three restaurants here:


Jen’s Instagram: @jen_ziskin

Heritage of Sherborn: @heritageofsherborn

Punch Bowl: @punchbowl_brookline

La Morra: @la_morra_brookline


Heritage of Sherborn: @heritageofsherborn

La Morra: @lamorrabrookline

Punch Bowl: @punchbowl_brookline

*Check their restaurant websites and Instagram pages to learn more about upcoming events. We are opening up our wine dinners again, and we will be having events at Heritage of Sherborn. Also, make sure you sign up for their newsletter for updates on events, as well as information on wine tastings at the Heritage Wine & Provisions Shop (stop in and grab a coffee or a bottle of wine!).

Events: UPCOMING EVENTS – Heritage of Sherborn

Also, follow along and sign up for the next food and wine tour in Tuscany with DuVine Adventures (scheduled for July 2022)!

If you are planning an event (Wedding, Shower, Bar or Bar Mitzvah, Birthday, etc.) please consider Heritage of Sherborn!

Private Events/Catering: