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Josephs Two

Classic Italian-American and diner fare with no superfluous apostrophes
By MC SLIM JB  |  December 23, 2008

It's tough to be a punctuation stickler who writes about restaurants. Restaurateurs frequently add nonsensical possessives (at Soya's in Newton, I suspect there's no Mr. Soya). Where they don't, diners do ("Let's go to Sonsie's", "No, Legal's", or worse, "How about Chez Henri's?"). Josephs Two in Waltham apparently presents a new solecism: no apostrophe where one actually belongs. Shouldn't that be Joseph's Two? Actually, no: father Joseph is the GM, son Joseph is the chef. Punctuational propriety appeased, I'm able to relax and enjoy their broad American and Italian-American menu.

Lines snake out the door on weekends in anticipation of heaping breakfasts like the Lumberjack ($8.25), with crisp corned-beef hash, properly poached eggs, toast, and flapjacks or French toast (all very good) plus cornbread (fluffy and sweet), or the popular Cape Codder ($6.95), featuring terrific cranberry pancakes with two eggs plus bacon, ham, or sausage. Sassy, bluff servers accentuate the old-school, no-frills atmosphere.

The lunch/dinner menu features a daily array of blue-plate specials ($8.79) like Yankee pot roast or London broil. The latter, advertised as flank, lacks the expected chewiness and flavor, but is helped by grilled peppers and onions. Both are served atop fantastic, lumpy mashed potatoes. These plates are modest, substantial, and genuine bargains, especially with the accompanying warm loaves of Italian bread and pats of real butter. An overflowing cup of superb split-pea soup loaded with ham (99 cents) is an essential upgrade. Fresh touches like these make it easy to forgive occasional corner-cutting, like fake maple syrup for the pancakes and Sysco ketchup instead of Heinz.

A three-course seniors' special ($16.95 for two, served Friday and Saturday from 4 to 9 pm) must seem especially welcome these days, with a green salad or soup (with more homemade-tasting options like corn chowder and pasta e fagioli), a choice of entrûe from seven blue plates (including fine housemade chicken pot pie, eggplant/pepper parmesan, chicken cacciatore, or broiled scrod), and dessert (pie, cake, or pudding). Excellent filter coffee ($1.95) and fresh lemonade ($3.25) stand out among the beverage options. There's even a worthy 1/3-pound cheeseburger ($7.25) with rather good fries or onion rings.

With a room reminiscent of a worn budget ski lodge, no one will mistake Josephs Two for a date place, but its food is the real cheap-eats deal, and far better than the fare served at most diners with hipper atmosphere. It's the kind of place about which you might even get a little possessive.

Josephs Two, located at 805 Main Street, in Waltham, is open Monday through Thursday, from 6 am to 3:30 pm; on Friday, from 6 am to 9 pm; on Saturday, from 7 am to 9 pm Saturday; and on Sunday, from 7 am to 3:30 pm. Call 781.899.4754.

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