Now Open: Viaggio Ristorante in Wayne
How it started: Viaggio’s executive chef, Robbie Felice, spent his childhood in Sussex, hanging out in his father’s restaurants. As a teenager, he worked in the family businesses and other local eateries, starting out as a dishwasher. Felice then decided to become a chef and enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America, and landed an internship at Mario Batali’s Manhattan restaurant Babbo. Felice also worked as a sous-chef at another Batali restaurant, B&B Ristorante in Las Vegas, before spending close to a year traveling and cooking throughout Europe. The 25-year-old was trying to decide on his next move, he says, when his father, Joe, who grew up in Wayne, called him after purchasing the restaurant space at 1055 Hamburg Turnpike. Felice says the two always dreamed of opening a place together – so he moved back to New Jersey and set about opening Viaggio, which means “journey” or “trip” in Italian. The father-son partnership is a restaurant that “from the food down to the napkins, represents me,” Felice says.