We know you’re always looking for cool new restaurants to try and we aim to please here. So here’s a spot to keep in mind especially if you love Italian food.
It’s a restaurant named Joia, it’s located at the Harborside Inn on State Street in downtown Boston close to the Aquarium and Faneuil Hall. And this is one of the most stunning new restaurants to open up in Boston over the past couple of years. The focus at Joia is on classic Italian food. The owner was actually born and raised in Naples, Italy. But there are also some surprises on the menu and we’ll get to that in a minute.
But first, let’s focus on the atmosphere because from the moment you walk in the door, you just say “wow” because the design is so interesting, sleek and stylish. They’re going for a gilded age kind of ambiance here, so you could host a Great Gatsby party. It’s a long, narrow space with an open kitchen at the back. There are lots of seats in the dining room, 16 seats at the bar, big patio overlooking the greenway. But inside, there are colorful portraits and hanging greenery and lots of cool lighting. In fact, every table has its own little lamp that you can adjust the hue and the brightness so you have the perfect studio lighting if you’re posting pictures to social media or just if you want to create your own mood lighting. During the weekend, it transitions into more of a club vibe after 10pm. But the first priority here is definitely on the food. Mostly traditional italian recipes, but they’re plated in a modern way. And because it’s located inside a hotel, they offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus some interesting additions like a burger and even some excellent sushi. But you go for the Italian if you’re coming here.
To start, I want to recommend the Bocconcini in Carrozza. This is basically a more upscale version of a mozzarella stick, made with balls of fresh mozzarella cheese that’s breaded and lightly fried served over a creamy pesto sauce.
Pizzas are extremely popular here as well. These are authentic, personal-sized pizzas. You can get the margherita pizza with a simple San Marzano tomato sauce, imported bufala mozzarella and fresh basil. My favorite is the sausage pizza, it has the crumbed spicy Italian sausage and some broccoli rabe on a nice, crispy crust.
Now if you come in here for lunch, here’s a recommendation for you: the Mediterranean sandwich. It’s made with tomatoes, imported mozzarella, basil pesto, and some arugula. Cooked inside of a panini press so it’s nice and crispy and gooey. Makes for a perfect light lunch.
At dinner, the dishes get a bit heartier. And you definitely want to try some of their signature pasta dishes, especially the Carbonara. This is made with spaghettoni pasta, which is a little thicker than regular spaghetti, with some guanciale and eggs and parmesan. One of the cooks here is from Rome and he swears this Carbonara is exactly what you would eat if you’re sitting across from the Colosseum.
Another great pasta here is the Porcini Pillows which is essentially homemade ravioli stuffed with mushrooms, has some Italian cream and truffle butter. And it has this cool-looking geometric pattern on top that’s actually made from squid ink.
And no matter what you’re getting here, you want to start with their signature cocktail: the espresso martini. It is made with a raw sugar and cocoa rim. They finish it with a stencil of the restaurant’s name so it spells out Joia. Plus of course, they throw in three espresso beans for good luck.
And for dessert, the “must order” is the tiramisu. Unlike the typical block shape you get at most places, this is more of a free-form tiramisu. It’s made with ladyfingers that are soaked in espresso, layered with creamy ricotta cheese and cocoa powder. And once again, it’s topped with one of those cool geometric patterns, but this time, it’s made out of brown sugar.
So whether it’s for dessert, drinks, pizza or pasta, you can experience a lot of joy at Joia restaurant in Boston.