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A Chef Known for Neighborhood Mainstays Wades Into Boston’s Competitive Italian Restaurant Ring

Josephine is set to open inside Somerville’s Cambria Hotel this spring

A man with an apron and tattoos on his arms leans on a white marble counter, looking at the camera with a straight face.
Chef Michael Scelfo.
Ben Gebo/HK Food Group
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

High-profile chef Michael Scelfo is adding another restaurant to his growing Boston empire. Josephine, an Italian restaurant dedicated to pizzas, Roman street snacks, and recipes from Scelfo’s Italian American upbringing, is opening inside Somerville’s Cambria Hotel, at 515 Somerville Avenue, this spring.

Plenty of Boston-area chefs are not happy about this development. Scelfo previously came under fire in 2020 when former staffers took to social media to allege misconduct at the chef’s restaurants, and some in the industry were outraged to see him resurface in the news with a new project.

Deep and thin-crust pizzas are at the center of Josephine’s menu, according to Scelfo. The lineup will be rounded out with “what I consider to be Italian classics inspired from family dinners, generational cooking, my travels, and growing up as a third-generation Italian American kid,” Scelfo says in an email.

Josephine marks the fourth restaurant for the acclaimed chef, who also owns the chart-topping Alden & Harlow, the accompanying Longfellow Bar, and Waypoint in Harvard Square. He’ll be helming the kitchen alongside Alden & Harlow alums Stephanie Barrett and Owen Macca. The bar, which will be stocked with Italian classics and offer martini service, will be run by Welitom Ramos, an alum of both Alden & Harlow and Longfellow. Sydnie Loboda, formerly of popular chains Barcelona Wine Bar and Tatte, will be leading the dining room operations.

Josephine is the chef’s first foray outside of the Cambridge neighborhood where he built his previous three establishments, which have received acclaim from national publications including Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, and Conde Nast Traveler. The Cambria Hotel in Somerville, where Josephine will be located, is on “what I consider to be a buzzing corridor of Somerville,” Scelfo says, noting that he’s excited to expand into the “rapidly-growing” area.

This will also be the chef’s first Italian restaurant in a town already full of them. But, he says, his Italian American family upbringing will play a large role in setting Josephine apart from the pack.

“This is a project that’s built on Italian family roots and real experience, which I really feel I have an honest voice in,” Scelfo says. “Italian food is nuanced, and I’m ready to showcase that at Josephine. Our community is blessed to have plenty of great Italian restaurants, and I’m excited to bring a true Italian American perspective.”

The opening is currently slated for March 2023.

Update: February 3, 2023, 8 p.m.: This article was updated to include additional information about Scelfo and misconduct allegations that former staffers raised on social media in 2020.