Sunday, March 15, 2009

Simple Interview: Michael Wolfson

Da Vinci Ristorante Boston

We are so happy to kick off Restaurant Week with the second installment of our Simple Interview series. In fact, our interviewee, Michael Wolfson of Da Vinci Ristorante has announced that the restaurant will be extending the prix fixe specials for an entire month, along with added extra values. Here is the Adam Pellerin report from our local Fox TV station.

What words, Michael, would you use to describe the style of your restaurant?

Beautiful ambiance, amazing Italian cuisine, upscale/friendly service, and reasonable prices.

What uniquely qualifies you to prepare and direct the cuisine at your restaurant?

I have managed some of the best restaurants in Boston over my career and feel that we have something very special at Da Vinci. Chef Peppino is solely responsible for our cuisine. His experience is second to none. He trained in Europe, worked with some very reputable Chefs during his career, and has a unique perspective on the restaurant business that I have never seen from a Chef. He genuinely cares about his guests and their satisfaction. My biggest struggle is matching the service in the restaurant with Chef Peppino's food. I am constantly reminding our service team.....our food is an A+. We must compliment that with A+ service. I have a terrific support team in my co-owners. Wioletta Zywina is the brains and heart of the operation. She is in charge of our bills, PR, advertising, ideas, etc. Chef Peppino is just the best. From his superb food to his enthusiasm for our guests, I could not be luckier to be part of such a dynamic team. Our office manager, Francine Viera worked closely with Wioletta and the rest of our team (kitchen and dining room staff) does a wonderful job each and every day.

Do you like to cook at home and, if so, what do you make?

I enjoy cooking, but my wife is a big fan of eating out, so that is what we normally end up doing for dinner. That gives me a great opportunity to see the competition and see fresh ideas that are constantly popping up in our business.

How has your restaurant responded to the “new economy”?

We opened Da Vinci back in November of 2007. A great number of our guests were regulars from La Campania in Waltham, where they remember Chef Peppino. We wanted to become strong addition to our neighborhood, which isn't easy, being that the South End is full of educated diners/foodies. We feel that we had to prove ourselves to our local guests, so we began offering a $29 three-course menu on Monday and Tuesday nights. I believe that we began this trend of upscale restaurants offering a prix-fixed, cost-friendly menu. It seems that numerous restaurants now offer this deal to their guests. We also give our guests $10 gift certificates to use during their next visit. During March, as well as being part of Restaurant Week, we give our guests homemade cookies that are accompanied by coupons to local boutiques, health club passes, gift certificates, etc. During April, we are putting together a promotion that each guest will be given a muffin that Chef Peppino made for them. The muffin will each have an added bonus, from coupons for a complimentary appetizer, a complimentary dessert, to a complimentary pasta sampler (one of our guest's favorite). There will also be $10 gift certificates and $25 gift certificates in some of the muffins. We want our guests to leave overly-satisfied with not only the food and the service, but with the value of the experience.

Tell us something that most people would be surprised to find out about you.

This could be a number of things......I enjoy old-school rap, and enjoy freestyling at the end of the evening, once the guests have left. I also love my family more than anything, which should not come as a surprise to people that know me, but with the hours of our business, it can become demanding to balance work and home. My wife is expecting our first child any day now, so we have been spending a lot of time training our Jack Russell terrier. Being supportive to my family and our team at Da Vinci is my priority each and every day, which does surprise some people. If you asked me ten-twelve years ago what my goals are, I would tell you that I want to open my own restaurant, hotel or B&B. You ask me this today and I would say that making the people around me better, both in their work and personal lives, is extremely important to me.

Da Vinci Ristorante
162 Columbus Avenue
Boston, MA 02116
Telephone: (617) 350-0007

Additionally, I want to say that a popular Boston publication has just added a new series of interviews featuring, you guessed it, five questions for prominent local foodies. Of course our first Simple Interview ran weeks ago. You may remember that our post on Ferran Adria's visit to Boston beat TIME Magazine's coverage to online publication. Not that we are bragging but TBF is really excited that sometimes our readers get their information faster than in the purported big leagues. Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. I hope Boston's Restaurant Week is really successful and others imitate it elsewhere. We need positive initiatives to keep our industry afloat. It's not just the famous chefs who are suffering - there are hundreds of thousands of people on low wages working in these restaurants who need people to eat out in order for them to survive.