There’s wood-fired pizza, lots of fried snacks and house-made pasta. But there’s also seafood, a sexy absinthe bar and sleek décor. It is a place vibrant enough for a happy hour pop-in, yet intimate enough for after-dark canoodling over caviar and cocktails. Waypoint, whose name means a stopping point in a journey, is all of these things — and a destination unto itself.
“This is the next step in my trajectory as a chef,” said Michael Scelfo, the chef and owner, who also runs Alden & Harlow, barely a half-mile away. That next step is particularly focused on seafood. His fried smelts plate with ramp rémoulade and fried lemons and jalapeños was crispy, both kinds of hot and easy to divide around the communal table during a recent visit. Tallow fried peanuts with anchovy and pickled fish peppers made a clever snack, especially when paired with the Estate Grown, a creamy house cocktail of Martinique rhum, pistachio falernum and hierbas dotted with lime-and-herb oil.
Dishes at Waypoint, which opened in August, are both contemporary and comfy. Royal Osetra caviar is turned from fusty to fun thanks to its accompanying doughnut holes and blinis made of phytoplankton and white corn. Beyond the well-appointed raw bar, there are small plates like the octopus polpetti with tender pasta, or smoked and salted peel-and-eat head-on shrimp with tangy buttermilk and hot sauce.
And bigger dishes, like an umami-rich roast lamb shoulder balanced with pickled lemon, or the improbably delicious smoked whitefish pizza with mascarpone, dill and capers, can easily feed two or three people. But you might want to save the daily crudo, with its balance of salt, acid and buttery olive oil, for yourself. (On the plate this particular Saturday: Alaskan king salmon with pickled chanterelles and Maine blueberries.)
Waypoint is tucked into an innocuous commercial strip in Cambridge, yet it is packed and impeccably staffed.
“Right now, I think Cambridge is where the most exciting food in the city is happening,” Mr. Scelfo said. “On a more practical level, it’s a 10-minute drive to my house and a 10-minute walk from Alden & Harlow, so it allows me work-life balance.” Mr. Scelfo has both restaurants humming like clockwork. I overheard the hostess tell guests with a 9 o’clock reservation on a busy Friday night just three weeks into their opening: “Welcome. We’re running right on schedule.”
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