Raised by a food-loving Italian family in Milford, Massachusetts, Joe Cassinelli has early memories of his Nonna’s handmade pastas drying in the kitchen and preparing meals at home for his encouraging parents. Cassinelli’s childhood interest in cooking and baking led to a job at a neighborhood steakhouse, where he worked as a busboy and dishwasher before trying his hand behind the line one night when the sauté chef failed to show up for his shift. He excelled in the role and was soon following in the footsteps of the restaurant’s head chef, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America himself in 1997, Cassinelli accepted a Garde Manger position at Boston’s formidable Seasons restaurant at The Regal Bostonian Hotel to further hone his skills under Chef Peter McCarthy. Moving from one Boston landmark to another, he took on the role of Poissonier at Mistral, the Columbus Hospitality Group flagship. After seven years at Mistral. he helped the group open sibling restaurant Teatro as the Executive Sous Chef, and eventually returned to Mistral to helm the kitchen as Chef de Cuisine. After more than a decade with Columbus Hospitality Group, he jumped at the opportunity to tackle his first Executive Chef position in 2005 on the opening team of South End restaurant Stella, which soon became one of Boston’s hottest restaurants, known for its sleek setting and upscale Italian menu.
In 2006, Cassinelli headed to the San Francisco Bay for a firsthand look at the vibrant West Coast food scene. He took the year to explore wine country in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, fully embracing local industry and viticulture and forging lasting relationships with many talented artisans and producers. Before long, he yearned for his East Coast roots, and in 2008 he found himself back in Boston to take the reins at the Columbus Hospitality Group’s Tuscan-inspired venture, L’Andana.
Inspired by his experience with Italian cuisine in various restaurant settings, Cassinelli set off on what would prove to be an invaluable culinary tour of Italy. He immersed himself in the country’s regional culture and cuisine, and was immediately enamored by the home-cooked food and warm hospitality that was such a part of daily life. He sought to bring that heartfelt approach to food and hospitality home to Boston, which he did with the founding of Alpine Restaurant Group in 2009 and bringing his first solo venture, Posto, to the burgeoning Davis Square neighborhood.
Cassinelli continued to expand his presence in the restaurant community and his culinary footprint with the opening of The Painted Burro, an upscale Mexican kitchen and tequila lounge in Davis Square in 2012. Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar, a laid-back restaurant in Somerville, soon followed. Casinelli expanded to the suburbs with the opening of Osteria Posto in Waltham in 2015 and then Brookline in 2017 with Burro Bar in Washington Square.