8.0
LA

Napoleon and Josephine

Perfect For: Date Night Outdoor/Patio Situation Unique Dining Experience
PHOTOS: Philip Guerette

Growing up, there was always that one house on the block that weirded you out for no reason. Maybe because shady trees covered it or the yard was filled with smirking lawn gnomes or it was inhabited by a rarely-seen old lady who you and your friends assumed sucked the souls out of children. Either way, you sped your bike up every time you got near it. Enter Napoleon and Josephine, that weird-looking restaurant on Melrose you've always mistakenly ignored, until you realize it’s one of the neighborhoods best spots.

Located in the heart of all things Melrose shopping, the chance you've strolled past and peered into Napoleon and Josephine wondering what the hell even goes on there is strong. So we’ll just tell you - it’s a Corsican restaurant. A very small, kitschy Corsican restaurant. Stepping into its miniature front dining room is like stepping back into time or at least into your high school French teacher’s basement. There are old portraits of French war heroes on the wall, a cloudscape painted on the ceiling, top hats for lampshades, and in the bathroom, a doll staring directly into your unprepared soul. If this all sounds like some version of your personal nightmare, we understand. But stick around, it only gets better.

Philip Guerette

Corsica, for those who slept through the Napoleon portion of AP History, is the French-owned island in the Mediterranean with a heavy Italian influence. What that means for you is a dinner unlike anything in LA. For $35, you get a choice of entree, dessert, and a straight-up thrilling 15-plate Corsican antipasti experience that includes everything from charcuterie to eggplant caviar to Italian hummus. Don’t bother looking for your menu, a server who will appear to have stepped out of a vintage Parisian cigarette ad will be around shortly with a giant placard displaying the night's entree options. If the Malfatti (spinach balls and ricotta) dish is on the menu, get it. Otherwise, order freely because everything is great and extremely authentic.

While bottles of wine are consumed very easily here (there's free corkage on weekdays), this is by no means your big group throwdown spot. You’re here with a few close friends on a Wednesday or a quirky date on the back patio because you’re both tired of eating octopus and beet salads. The vibe is certainly subdued, but not in the way that makes you want to take a nap. People are simply talking at normal levels because they don’t have to compete with screaming 22-year-olds or a Bruno Mars song blasting over the sound system.

Just like that soul-sucking old woman who was probably baking cookies all day, Napoleon and Josephine is the local oddball you’ve completely misread.

Food Rundown

Antipasti Mix

If this isn’t one of the best antipasti spreads in the city, it’s certainly the most unique. Over 15 dishes (many of which you’ve probably never heard of before) hit the table and you realize quickly they aren’t f*cking around in Corsica. Just open your heart and go.

Philip Guerette
Malfatti

This is one of those special dishes you zone out to while friends are talking to you days later. Ricotta, spinach balls, and herbs all basking in a beautiful cream bath.

Philip Guerette
Seaside Cassolette

You’re not going to find many dishes at Napoleon & Josephine not doused in some sort of heavy cream sauce, and this is no exception. However, it’s not a huge dish and the seafood keeps things from getting too heavy. If you’re looking for a (slightly) lighter dish, this is your move.

Philip Guerette
Chicken Basquaise

This might seem like a pretty straight forward dish, and that's exactly what we like about it. Peppers, onion, and chicken all stewed together for hours and placed over pasta. Don’t fix what’s not broken.

Philip Guerette
Bavette Steak

This is basically their steak frites and while that sauce on top is fantastic (seriously, this place knows how to make a sauce), the steak itself isn’t anything special.

Philip Guerette
Taglioni and Prosciutto

Pasta and prosciutto? Yes, that’s a wedding we will always crash.

Philip Guerette
Dessert

These change nightly, so don’t get too attached to any one dish in particular. But everything is made in-house and we've yet to be disappointed.

Philip Guerette
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