After introducing two very successful restaurants to the Somerville dining scene, some people might be content to kick back and relax. Not Joe Cassinelli. The owner of Posto, a Neapolitan pizzeria, and The Painted Burro, a Mexican eatery, recently expanded his Davis Square footprint with the opening of a completely revamped Rosebud.
“I don’t have an off switch,” Cassinelli said. “I’m always thinking about ways to improve things and create opportunities for talented people.”
Growing up in a big Italian family Cassinelli was surrounded by great food and he’s made it his mission to bring the very best dishes–whether they’re Italian, Mexican or classic American–to his customers.
When the iconic Rosebud Diner (381 Summer St.) closed last year, many wondered what would become of the space. Anyone who’s ever been inside previously will hardly recognize it now.
“I’d walked by it a lot of times,” said Cassinelli, who lives near Davis. “It hadn’t been loved for a lot of years. It’s a landmark. It needed somebody to make a full investment in the space.”
And that’s exactly what Cassinelli has done by reviving many of the building’s historic touches while giving it a modern feel. The space was originally a cottage snack shack in the late 1930s, but that was covered up when the dining car was attached to the front and the business became the Rosebud Diner in the ’40s. Another large room was added to the back in the 1960s that housed a variety of restaurants over the years.
“We removed a lot of the walls and opened up the space,” Cassinelli said. “We brought it into the 21st century with a retro, luxurious feel.”
While Cassinelli’s two other Davis Square restaurants have focused on specific cuisines, Italian and Mexican, Rosebud is his take on classic American dining updated for the modern era.
America is a “melting pot of cultures,” Cassinelli said. “We’re cooking something real by taking flavors from all across the country and putting them together in ways we want to eat them.”
The dinner menu features items like fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, smoked ribs, chicken fried catfish and other down home delicacies. Cassinelli sees Rosebud as a neighborhood hangout where locals can grab a casual but delicious meal any night of the week.
“It’s approachable cuisine,” Cassinelli said.
The bar menu offers cocktails old and new, with a heavy bourbon influence, and what Cassinelli dubbed “throwback beers. Things that we drank when we were young.” Diners should also be on the lookout for a bourbon barrel-aged beer produced just for Rosebud by Night Shift and a slew of tiki drinks that will be on the menu soon.
In keeping with the classic American theme, Rosebud is serving up fresh pies like chocolate cream, pumpkin and apple cherry ginger for dessert. Soon, house made doughnuts will join the selection of sweets. In addition to dinner, dessert and the bar, Rosebud will also be offering weekend brunch starting in November.
“I love what I do, it’s not work to me,” Cassinelli said. “When I stop having fun, I’ll slow down.”