A Fully Revamped Rosebud to Open on September 15

Take a first look at all the pies, burgers, and barbecued pig heads now featured at Somerville's historic diner.


Photo by Kristin Teig

Davis Square’s Rosebud Diner will officially make its comeback as Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar on September 15. Restauranteur Joe Cassinelli, of the Alpine Restaurant Group (Painted Burro, Posto), is behind the transformation with a new Pan-American menu that touches upon Southern, Thai, Italian, and classic Americana diner fare.

“Our goal is to be a solid neighborhood restaurant,” Cassinelli says. “I live in town and I wanted to create a restaurant I would go and eat at on a regular basis, without feeling it’s supposed to be this educational experience. I was looking for down and dirty food—burgers, barbecue, banana cream pies, and fried chicken.”

Joining him is chef/partner John Delpha who came up through Jamie Mammano’s kitchens, Mistral and Sorellina. Most recently, Delpha was manning his own restaurant, The Belted Cow in Essex Junction, Vermont, which closed in May. Delpha, who has amassed over 30 awards with his nationally ranked barbecue team, iQue, will bring a serious barbecue focus to the menu, including pork shank with a five-spice rub, St. Louis-style ribs, bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers (also called “Atomic Buffalo Turds” on the barbecue circuit), and Texas-style brisket.


A selection of pies at the new Rosebud in Somerville. Photo by Kristin Teig

“John is truly a grand champion in the barbecue world, so what he’s really bringing to the table is his passion for smoke,” Cassinelli says. “We’re not just doing prime cuts in the smoke program. You’re not going to walk in and just see baby back ribs. You might see that as a special, but it won’t be our focus. Johnny is really passionate about barbecue and he wants to run this like a real barbecue stand. There won’t be an infinite supply of brisket and ribs, so when we’re out, we’re out.”

Other highlights will include fried chicken thighs with an Alabama-style white dipping sauce, griddled cheeseburgers, and whole roasted hog heads with gochujang barbecue sauce, kimchi, ginger scallion relish, and biscuits.

“It might freak some people out, but if you’re into really good meat, you’re getting the cheeks, the jowls, everything,” Cassinelli says. “It’ll be half a head served with buns and cool accompaniments, so you can basically make your own banh mi sandwich.”


The griddled cheeseburger at Rosebud. Photo by Kristin Teig

For dessert, Cassinelli will give a nod to the Rosebud’s dining car legacy with a wide array of pies and “buck-a-cup” coffee. “Obviously, we couldn’t get rid of the historical Rosebud name, so we embraced the Rosebud, if you will,” Cassinelli says. “What you’ll find when you come into the space are some touches that go back to its 1930s-era diner days, including our pie program and our buck-a-cup coffee. At an old diner you would have to serve a great cup of coffee. That’s one of the elements we wanted to keep around.”

The bar program is helmed by Ian Strickland (The Beehive, The Merchant) who has put together an extensive spirits with over 80 types of whiskey, whiskey flights, and cocktails named after the restaurant’s previous iterations (Cuckoo’s Nest, Jaunty Jack). The beer section includes a wide range of canned selections, a dedicated list of barrel-aged offerings, and 18 beers on draft, many from local operations like Aeronaut, Jack’s Abby, and Night Shift.


Smoked brisket on rye bread. Photo by Kristin Teig

Rosebud American Kitchen & Spirits will initially be able to accommodate up to 140 guests, but Cassinelli is already petitioning the city of Somerville to add more seating. The space has seen a number of renovations since the Alpine Group took over the lease in January. Cassinelli knocked down multiple walls to open up the space; he converted the dining car into a semi-private dining area that seats up to 30 guests; he lined the dining room with tufted leather banquettes and “old style” booths; and he built a raised patio—complete with a pergola—in the former alley next to the building.

The restaurant will be open daily from 4 p.m to 11 p.m., with the bar staying open until 1 a.m. Rosebud will also offer Sunday brunch starting later this fall. Below is a look at the menu, which is subject to change.

Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar Menu

381 Summer St., Somerville