Fantastic Friday Friends!
As promised, I wanted to share with you the amazing conversation I had with Roberto one of the owners of the Olazzo restaurants in Maryland. Do you ever go somewhere and just want to talk to the owner about what an awesome thing they have done? Sometimes, when I visit a store or a restaurant, I just want to know the story behind it. Do you ever feel that way? Well in this particular instance, I was so lucky to actually get to speak with the owner of Olazzo!
He was very kind to take the time to speak with me about his restaurant, his family and food/life in general.
RGR – To start with how did you and your brother get the idea for a restaurant?
Roberto – Me and my brother (Ricardo) were in the restaurant business working as servers for awhile ( me about 13 years and he about 5). So I was living in California at the time and wanted to open a restaurant. Originally I wanted to open up a sushi place because there was a lack of them in our area. This was in 2001. So I moved back and decided to go with Italian instead of sushi because I was more comfortable with it being a first generation Italian. So I found a location that was a small seafood restaurant name south beach. They were moving to a bigger location up the street and was selling it for $60,000. It was a 1000 square foot space. So our opening chef backed out about a month before we opened. My brother had never cooked before and became our opening chef. We new a lot of people in the area. The place became a hit pretty much right away. It was only 46 seats but became a hot spot in the area.
RGR – Who is the head chef at each location?
Roberto – My brother pretty much heads the kitchen in both places
RGR – Where did your recipes come from?
Roberto – Family grew up Italian so we pretty much had a lot of family stuff. My brother also trained at my best friends place in California.
RGR – What is your favorite food item (dish) on the menu?
Roberto – I would say that our tortellini with mushrooms, dates and spinach
RGR – Where is your family from?
Roberto – My family is from Alatri, Italy
RGR – I know that this is a family business, is it just you and your brother or are other family members involved?
Roberto – The restaurant is owned by me and my brother. But the others helped a lot with the buildouts. We are in the construction business.
RGR – What is your favorite non-Italian thing to make and/or eat?
Roberto – Well I love Octopus to eat. I love making crab cakes
RGR – Do you have a favorite cookbook/chef that is an inspiration?
Roberto – Well my grandmother was a phenomenal cook. She was well known back home as one of the best gnocchi makers in town.
I was lucky enough to have a conversation with Roberto after he answered all of my interview questions. He told me the one thing he realized about the restaurant business that he thinks he likes the most is the buzz of the place and the ambiance that keeps people coming back. He said there are always clients that find a place and make it their regular hang-out but when there’s a couple that only go out once per month, you want to be the place they want to be. It’s work to be the choice of the customer, especially when there are so many restaurants that are competing for the clientele.
Roberto also told me that the first night they opened the restaurant, he was so nervous he didn’t want to turn on the open sign. Can you imagine? They are so very successful and they now have two locations of Olazzo, plus two other restaurants. Please check out the website for Olazzo. https://www.olazzo.com/
I would encourage you to visit any of their locations. Have a seat and ask some questions. You never know who you might talk to. Roberto is very in to travel right now and doing some very exciting things. I want to let you guys know, we might have to talk to our friend Roberto again to catch up with what he is doing.
Lots of Love,