When did you get involved with Pizzico?
I partnered with Jim Harris about six years ago when he had owned Pizzico for about six years. I got involved in the restaurant and we started Decadent Catering out of the same facilities. I’ve been in the business since I was a kid (my godfather was a chef) and have a background as a chef restaurateur. We had similar goals in the industry and it’s been a good collaboration.
Tell me more about your catering business.
Decadent Catering is a boutique catering company. What sets us apart is that we’re not looking to be huge, but we have the backing and knowledge of the industry and a busy restaurant behind us. We leverage those to deliver great catering. We can do any size event, but most tend to be on the smaller side and customized. We like to create a restaurant experience for the guests even though they are in another venue – that’s been the recipe for our success.
Is it difficult to juggle both businesses?
Balancing catering and the restaurant isn’t difficult for me – it’s my background. It’s all about controlled chaos! The more detailed and organized you are, the better chance you have at success. We run a pretty tight operation and everyone is cross-utilized. Most of our staff has been with us for a long time, and we have a catering director who oversees that area.
How would you describe Pizzico?
Pizzico is a rustic bistro. The restaurant opened in 1991 and has gathered a loyal following over the years, but it needed to be updated when I arrived six years ago. We had the creative challenge of mixing customer favorites from the long-standing, diverse menu with trendier dishes and other touches that would appeal to new customers.
Is it still evolving?
In the restaurant industry, you always have to keep evolving so you don’t get left behind. You need to keep adapting and changing based on what’s happening and what the customer wants. Since we’re in a residential neighborhood, we have regular local customers, so when we try something new we’re able to get a lot of direct feedback. This helps us know how we’re doing and whether our vision is in the right direction.
Describe your menu.
Our regular menu has lots of choices for different tastes and palates, and we have a local board, which features dishes from local produce, farmers, and producers. It changes weekly and there are often five to six different farms or local suppliers per dish. We don’t just do this because farm-to-table is trendy, but because we like to educate diners about what’s available around here.
What’s been on the local board lately?
Our local menu changes every week; we coordinate with Farm Fresh RI to get what’s in season. For example, we’ve been featuring some great cod and scallops from Local Catch, based out of Narragansett. Last week we featured roasted parsnip and pancetta with cracked black pepper fettuccini, finished with extra virgin olive oil, fresh parsley and Cloumage cheese from Shy Brothers, who arebased out of Westport, MA. The pancetta is from Daniele, a larger charcuterie producer in Rhode Island.
What are some popular dishes?
The menu is so diverse it’s hard to pick, but I’ll tell you my favorites. One is the Duck Confit, served over a wild mushroom risotto with creamed spinach and truffle oil, finished with a red wine demi-glace. Another, my personal favorite, is the Spigola. It’s pan-seared sea bass served over lobster risotto with a shrimp saffron brodo (broth). These are the hearty dishes that people crave when the weather gets colder.