Flagship of the De Pasquale Empire in the Historic North End
Frank De Pasquale wants to do for Boston’s historic North End what Eataly did for New York’s Gramercy Park and Chicago’s River North. But with a twist, of course.
His De Pasquale Ventures is similar to Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s famed Italian-focused behemoth featuring various eateries serving Neapolitan pizzas, handmade pastas, gelato, gourmet coffee, salumi, wine and more. What sets them apart, however, is that while Eataly is all under one roof, De Pasquale’s many establishments are spread throughout a few blocks of each other.
This, of course, is deliberate. De Pasquale, who’s operated and owned large-scale nightclubs and restaurants since the late 80s, grew tired of traveling along the East Coast to check up on his businesses, so he sold so he sold most of them to concentrate on his burgeoning North End empire.
“My motto is ‘take care of this neighborhood,’” he says. “If I cannot walk to it, I don’t want to go. It’s because I also live in the (North End). It’s easy and accessible for me to get to any of the restaurants and I have peace of mind.”
Each establishment is a completely different concept. For example, Quattro serves up brick-oven pizzas and roasted meats. Then there is Gelataria, known for whipping up more than 50 different flavors of gelato. Bricco’s Salumeria & Pasta showcases hard-to-find Italian specialties. There are many, many more, but Bricco — an award-winning, “boutique-style” eatery — is the flagship of the group. Its modern Italian fare and dining room flair have been highly recognized by the likes of Bon Appetit, Esquire and Wine Spectator.
What sets Bricco apart from other Italian restaurants in Boston is its triple threat of offerings. In addition to its upscale Italian fare, there is also Bricco Suites for luxury, extended-stay accommodations, and Bricco Panetteria, which cranks out freshly baked ciabatta, baguettes and other artisan breads on a daily basis.
De Pasquale indeed has a lot going on, and he says that without his family and a staff of more than 450 people spread throughout his businesses, he would not be able to attain his goals.
“My children help me out,” he says proudly. “My son is the general manager. My daughter is the comptroller. My wife does bookkeeping. Success is hiring the right people and having the right team to back you up. I have great chefs (at every restaurant). People enjoy their jobs and everyone is treated like family. Most of my employees stay with me 20 or 30 years. We put out a lot of love and a lot of passion in these restaurants.”
That passion, he believes, is not lost on customers, many of whom are repeat diners and Hollywood A-Listers like Gisele Bündchen, Andy Garcia, Sandra Bullock and Mariah Carey. De Pasquale also credits his chefs’ commitment of staying on top of trends by traveling frequently to Italy as a big draw. Yet, he is still drawn to perennial menu favorites, from zucchini “flowers” stuffed with truffle ricotta cheese to the fontina and pancetta stuffed veal chop.