Having been raised in the restaurant business, I always had considered it a certainty that I would open my own someday, and spent many a sleepless night dreaming of what it would be like. However, as I worked my way through corporate food and beverage, family-owned restaurants, casinos and a few amazing resorts, I learned just how difficult it would be….and I was a little scared. OK a LOT scared.
I have had the pleasure to have worked with some of the best people in this crazy business, and have learned so much from each of them. These are the people that gave me the confidence I needed to take the leap that would be necessary to follow this dream. However, I had a good position and was making a good living with a good quality of life. And….I was scared!
That is when the most important of all of the people I have ever worked with gave me the necessary “swift kick” I needed to FINALLY move forward. My amazing wife, Kendra, had the strength and courage to push me just enough to start pursuing my dream. So, with the support of my wife, daughter and several friends, I started REALLY looking into opening a restaurant. Writing a business plan, meeting with real estate brokers, fine tuning what the concept would be like, etc. However, after two years of this process, I was discouraged that I had not been able to get something done. Until I realized that it was all for a reason…the situations just weren’t right.
Then one day my phone rang and it was an old friend, Carl Paladino. He and his son Billy had been talking about a space they had coming available at Frankin and Mohawk streets downtown, and Osteria 166 was born!
The concept is quite simple—provide a welcoming atmosphere with great food at a fair price, all while paying respect to my family’s roots in the restaurant business, and great things can happen.
Our Italian family is a close knit, food-centric group. Held together by my amazing mother Nani (Joan to some, Mom to me, but Nani to the world.) She struggled with the name (I’ll get to that) and the menu for a while, but with our chef’s patience and Nani’s secret recipes, a balance has been struck. And we couldn’t be happier with the product we serve. It is truly a blend of old family specialties and a working-class chef doing his thing.
Back to the name Osteria. I struggled greatly with the name until I learned of the Osterias in Italy. This is simply translated to public house, inn or casual meeting place. That seemed right in line with what I wanted it to be. My problem is almost EVERYONE had a reason not to use it. “No one can pronounce it!” “No one has ever heard of it!” And so on, and so on. At the end of the day, it just felt right to me. So, I resisted the pressures to change it (or call it Nick’s Place…NO) and away we went.
Next was the design of the space. That is where my baby sister Kim came into the fold. An amazing artist with a vision I clearly do not possess. Kim was able to create a warm and inviting space on a budget that was….well…tight. It makes me so proud to hear people talk about the design and feel of the room, and it is a perfect match for what we are trying to do.
Last was putting together a team of people who shared my vision and passion for this business. I must say this was one of the most humbling aspects of the process. The majority of the opening team we assembled had either worked with me in the past, or worked with someone who worked with me in the past, and they were all in. To have a group of people risk their family’s well-being on your vision is a pretty intimidating feeling. Realizing that they are doing it because they believe in you is one of the most humbling experiences of my life.
On June 10th 2013, the next chapter in the Pitillo Family Restaurant Legacy began. We hope you like it!
Nick Pitillo, Owner