Here’s the Opening Menu at Michael Scelfo’s Waypoint
Behold, Waypoint: The next stop on your gustatory expedition in Cambridge. Michael Scelfo’s latest, the Alden & Harlow chef’s second Harvard Square restaurant, opens to the public Friday, August 26, and it’s the next logical point on the map of his culinary career.
The name “could be conceived as a nautical reference, but for me, it’s my waypoint. This is my second stop on my journey toward what I ultimately want to do, which is owning several restaurants and be able to express myself through different food,” Scelfo says.
At Waypoint, he’ll do it in an open kitchen, beyond the white Carrera marble chef’s table, with the pizza oven in full view. There are two communal high-tops in the dining room, around a few supportive mercury glass columns, overlooking Mass. Ave through a rounded facade of operable windows. The horseshoe bar seats 24, and there’s also an underlit raw bar in the space designed by Stephen Sousa (Alden & Harlow, the Gallows).
If the light, gray, and green color palette, and light fixtures inspired by weathered fishing gear doesn’t make it clear, Waypoint is, at it’s core, coastally-inspired. It could be mistaken for a seafood restaurant: There is Harvard Square’s first full-scale raw bar (though another, and potentially a third, is coming), as well as caviar service, accompanied by a white corn phytoplankton blini—an intensely green take on Alden’s beloved sweet corn pancakes—buttermilk yogurt, and fried-to-order doughnut holes. There is whole-grilled branzino, octopus polpetti, a classic clam pizza, and lobster-salad stuffed bone marrow, but Scelfo isn’t just treading water. There is more to the concept.
“Seafood is well represented in [Boston]. I wanted to have a voice on this side of the river, something that speaks to how we’re eating right now,” he says.
Waypoint’s menu is anchored by large platters, shareable among a table. Small plates, like roasted snails with garlic bread panzanella, and reinterpreted veal tonnato, which replaces the traditional tuna sauce with sushi-grade fish and a lemony anchovy mayonnaise, “are the most Alden-esque point on the menu,” Scelfo says. “They really complement the roasts well.”
The kitchen is milling flour in-house for the pizza dough and pastas, as well as Alden & Harlow and Waypoint pastry chef Kenny Hoshino’s desserts and bread program. He has also created gluten-free dough for pies and pastas.
But Scelfo, a self-proclaimed “pizza fiend,” devised the toppings. There’s a strong seafood focus here, including his take on Frank Pepe’s New Haven clam pie, as well as the ultimate brunch pizza: smoked whitefish with mascarpone, dill, and crisped capers on “everything” crust. (Brunch service is coming, eventually.) There’s also pig’s cheek, duck tongue, and a vegetarian option.
Alden & Harlow wine director Jen Fields and beverage director Seth Friedus are leading the charge behind Waypoint’s bar. To satisfy another passion of Scelfo’s, that includes a copper absinthe tap, and importing more than 20 different varieties of the anise spirit. He wanted to be the first in Boston to offer drip absinthe, a simple cocktail of sugar dissolved in absinthe and ice water.
“I love the flavor and the of romance of the process of absinthe, and it pairs so perfectly with seafood and shellfish,” Scelfo says.
There are other cocktails featuring absinthe, as well as Freidus originals and reinterpreted classic drinks highlighting rum, mezcal, sherry, and other spirits from coastal regions, house infusions meant to pair with caviar service, and market fresh mocktails. Fields’ wine list is heavy on seaside vineyards, with bottles organized by color and more unusual classifications, like Vitamins & Minerals, Riverbend, and, somewhat oddly, Naturalized Citizens for U.S. products. There’s a three-ounce Splash of the Day special, and the beer menu features coastally-located breweries.
“Everything has that current running through it, no pun intended,” Scelfo says. “That’s what the coastal thing means to us: It’s not just seafood. It’s more about the bounty.”
Waypoint, dinner nightly 5-11 p.m., late night 11 p.m.-midnight, bar 1 a.m., 1030 Massachusetts Ave., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-864-2300, waypointharvard.com.