A First Look at Josephine in Kenmore Square

Petit Robert's successor goes full Francophile, with an extensive French wine list and a menu of modernized Gallic classics.


Photo provided

The former Petit Robert space in Kenmore Square will soon open up with a new look, a new name, and an enthusiastic first-time owner that’s determined to bring the best of his Parisian past to Boston. In mid-May, Samuel Gosselin, a former telecommunications and healthcare executive, will open Josephine, a contemporary French Bistro inspired by some of his favorite wine bars and cafes in France.

“Because of my job, I’ve always had one foot in the restaurant industry,” Gosselin says. “I’ve run companies in the past, but I always wanted to create my own business and be my own boss. A few things happened to me in my life over the last couple years that really convinced me that this was the right time pursue my dream, which was owning and running my own restaurant. I’ve always loved cooking and good wine, and I just felt this was the natural evolution for me professionally.”

Located at 468 Commonwealth Avenue, Josephine (named after Gosselin’s mother) is helmed by chef Stefano Quaresima, formerly of Petit Robert in the South End, along with chef du cuisine Nick Oldham (Eastern Standard) and general manager Sam Wolf (Bistro du Midi). The small, boutique menu will focus on seasonal ingredients sourced locally, all of which will complement Gosselin’s extensive, all-French lineup of wines.

“People will see that the menu doesn’t have that many items, but I want each dish to be unique and a very interesting experience,” Gosselin says. “I like quality, not quantity. As far as the wine goes, I’m starting off with about 50 labels that pair properly with Stefano’s food. To pull that off, I looked toward great restaurants like Barcelona, which mostly has Spanish wine, or Coppa that is focused on Italian wine. I think Boston will appreciate a restaurant where you can come in and choose from Burgundy, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Jura, Provence, Loire Valley, and Cotes du Rhone. We’ll showcase the wide variety of wines that France can offer.”

Quaresima and Oldham’s refined menu includes modern interpretations of classic Gallic dishes like Nage de Coquilles, mussels and clams in a coconut and lemongrass-based broth; Homard a l’Americaine; Calamars Farcis, squid stuffed with merquez sausage; and Canette en Deux Versions, roasted duck breast and duck leg confit served over sauce bigarade.

In addition to manning the wine program, Gosselin, a self-styled “handyman,” is helping to redesign the space. The owner is outfitting most of Josephine’s interior with large slabs of natural Berkshires wood and steel cut and molded by a local Revere welder. This aesthetic extends itself to the tables and chairs, which were crafted by artist Erik Schutz, who helped design Danny Meyer’s (a personal hero of Gosselin) furniture at Gramercy Tavern. The 3,500 square foot space will have seating for 80 guests, as well as a quaint patio that should open just in time to capture the best months of the al fresco season.

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468 Commonwealth Ave., Boston; 484-995-2797 or josephineboston.com.