Dining Out: Josephine

I am a big fan of culinary genius Michael Scelfo. He's the chef / owner of Alden & Harlow, Longfellow Bar and Waypoint (all in Cambridge, MA) and over the summer he added another spot to his restaurant group empire, Josephine in Somerville, MA. 

I have celebrated many birthdays at Alden & Harlow, and this year I decided I wanted to ring in 39 at Josephine. It would be my first visit to the restaurant since it opened, and I was hopeful that with 3-4 months of service under its belt, we'd be in for a spectacular time. 

The restaurant is on the ground floor of a new hotel, the Cambria. The best known landmark in this neighborhood of Somerville is the Market Basket. If you're local, now that I said that, you know exactly where it is. 

I walked up to the host and gave my name. He was browsing his iPad for quite a while and then looked up and me asked, "Did you say Holly?" I was starting to get nervous. I had made the reservation weeks ago and I could already tell the restaurant was packed, so if they didn't have us in the system, we were definitely not getting a table. 

Patiently, I said my full name again, and by some miracle, this time he was able to find our reservation. He walked us to a table in the dead center of the restaurant, between the bar (which was bustling) and a row of booths along the front windows. 

Josephine Menu

We were perusing the menus when a waiter popped over to introduce himself. We asked for a smidge more time to decide on drinks, and after he walked away, about 90 seconds later a different server walked over to introduce herself and apologize for the long wait in someone coming to chat with us. We gently shared that we had in fact been helped, and were happy to spend the evening with either server - as long as they were clear on who was assigned to our table. It was at this point that I was starting to get a little nervous. 

We decided the best way to navigate this would be with drinks in hand. I ordered a glass of Nebbiolio, the friend next to me ordered a dirty martini and my bestie across the table ordered the basil spritz.

My wine was excellent and I knew it would pair well with all the Italian food we planned to devour. 

Josephine Wine

My friend described her dirty martini as, "very smooth." They put smoked blue cheese into her blue cheese stuffed olives, which she was not expecting and commented, "tastes like being at a fire pit. Not in a good way." 

Josephine Spritz and Martini

The basil spritz cocktail got a rave review. She declared, "This is very refreshing. If I were a mom, I would pour this right into my giant Stanley cup!" 

While we were taking our first sips, a server we hadn't seen before came over and asked, "Is one of you Molly?" I nodded. He continued, "Your favorite twin says your wine is on her tonight." I was immediately puzzled. I do have twin cousins, I am very close to them, but they would never identify themselves singularly. I was confused. 

A few minutes later another server popped over, this time holding a bottle of Prosecco. He declared, "This is from your favorite twins!" and began pouring glasses of bubbly for all three of us. Supremely shocked, I texted my cousins to ask if they had sent us these drinks and they replied within seconds, "Yes, it was us!" 

Josephine Cocktails

We went from zero drinks on the table to six in a matter of minutes. 

Josephine Birthday Dinner

With the wine mystery solved, we were ready to order some starters. I had seen the restaurant's mozzarella sticks all over Instagram, so I asked if we could have one order to share. Our waiter crinkled his face and said, "Oooo. Those are actually only on the bar menu, let me see if it's possible for you to have them here in the dining room." I was very taken aback. This dish had been promoted heavily on social media, with zero caveat that it was bar-only. I had my fingers crossed it might still be possible.

He returned with the bad news that the mozzarella sticks were "sold out." More on that later.

In their place we decided to order two of the crispy rice suppli - the potato, white truffle, fontina sage and honey, and the tomato, basil and smoked pecorino. 

Josephine Crispy Rice Suppli

The rice balls were amazing. Crispy on the outside (as promised) and warm and gooey on the inside. The potato one was garnished with black pepper and fresh cheese in a way that made every bite explode with flavor. 

I wasn't sure if the tomato and basil variety could trump the potato one, but it was spectacular. It had such a rich and decadent flavor. It almost made me forget about the mozzarella sticks. 

Next we transitioned to a salad course. A friend and I decided to share the Caesar, which came garnished with a charred lemon and giant focaccia croutons. 

Josephine Caesar Salad

While the presentation was beautiful, the lettuce / cheese / dressing ratio was not ideal. We were pretty underwhelmed. 

Across the table, a friend had ordered the olive, egg and iceberg salad, which was a home run. It came in the most stunning vertical presentation. 

Josephine Olive and Egg Salad

A few bites in, she gushed, "This is a 10/10. The green beans are delicious, the cheese crips are fantastic, and the dressing is perfect." 

I knew I wanted to try the pizza as part of this dining experience, but I was having a tough time deciding if I wanted to go deep dish. I had seen a deep dish pizza on a neighboring table and it looked phenomenal, but the menu instructs diners to be prepared to wait 25 minutes for their pie if they go the deep dish route. 

In the end, I convinced one of my gal pals to split a pizza with me (not deep dish). We chose the Cacio-nara, which is the best of Cacio e Pepe and Carbonara on one pizza. 

Josephine Cacionara Pizza

I had a religious experience when I took my first bite of this pizza. It is exceptional. The crust has just the right amount of chew, the cheese / pepper / egg combination is stellar, and you simply cannot stop eating it. 

Next to us, our friend had ordered a side of the hash browns, which came over a sea of Italian hero sauce and dotted with aioli. She let me try a bite and these could rival any tater tot. Crispy, well seasoned and highly addictive. 

Josephine Hashbrowns

It was at this point that the restaurant's manager appeared at our table. He knelt down and whispered, "Ladies, I am so sorry to do this, but I have to ask you do something." We absolutely thought he was going to say we needed to wrap up and leave. He continued, "Can I ask you to move that booth over there in the window? We've overbooked tonight if I can have this table you are sitting at now, I can accommodate a party of eight in this spot." 

Relieved that we weren't being asked to leave, we said, "Of course. Put us wherever you need us to be." We then proceeded to carry all of our drinks and plates to our new spot.

When we sat down in the booth, we could see a few tables outside on the patio and on one of those tables, nearly 90 minutes after we first sat down, was a plate of mozzarella sticks. I thought my head was going to pop off. Apparently they are available, just not for us. 

Our server was not near us while this table move was happening, and it took him a good 20 minutes to realize we had been shifted to a different table.

It was at this point in the night where the service got painfully slow. We were left alone for a long time without anyone checking on us. We had hoped to order dessert, but were starting to feel like maybe we should just head out. 

The manager popped back over to offer to comp a round of drinks. We asked for espresso martinis, which turned out to be quite delicious. They tasted like melted coffee ice cream. 

Josephine Espresso Martinis

We did eventually get to put in a dessert order. We went with the chocolate torta (gluten-free!). When the manager returned carrying the cake, he personally sang me happy birthday and when he got to the line where you'd say "Happy birthday dear Molly," he instead sang, "Happy birthday fellow Libra," and I squealed! We went on to have a five minute conversation about our shared zodiac sign. 

Josephine Chocolate Cake

I am a huge dessert person, particularly chocolate desserts, but this one wasn't sweet enough for me. My besties loved it, saying it reminded them of a gingerbread cookie and all the nostaglic goodies at Christmas time. 

When it was time to leave, as we walked to the car we chatted about if we'd come back again. My answer is "yes." Just not on a busy Saturday night.

I think on a Tuesday or Wendesday night, dining at Josephine could be wonderful. I definitely need to eat more of those rice balls. We loved the olive and egg salad. The pizza was awesome and I do want to try the deep dish. And I am absolutely determined to get those mozzarella sticks! 

I think this was a case of an extremely busy night and not even the magical powers of my birthday could ease the strain on the staff. 


Molly Galler

Welcome to Pop.Bop.Shop. My name is Molly. I’m a foodie, fashionista, pop culture addict and serious travel junkie. I’m a lifelong Bostonian obsessed with frozen confections, outdoor patios, Mindy Kaling, reality television, awards shows, tropical vacations, snail mail and my birthday.

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