Pasta Ramen’s secret is out: Meet its chef, owners, plus the new restaurant’s location

Since it opened late last year, Pasta Ramen, the by-invite-only refined Italian-Japanese pop-up functioned as a secretive speakeasy. Location and chef were kept hush-hush. Those who dined there were sworn to secrecy, I among them.

But now I can give the secret, most of it at least, away. So here goes:

Chef Robbie Felice of award-winning Viaggio in Wayne and Osteria Crescendo in Westwood and restaurateur Luck Sarabhayavanija of Ani Ramen in several locations in North Jersey are the two men behind the enterprise. Felice, a James Beard Rising Chef nominee, is the chef.

Robbie Felice, chef-owner of Viaggio Ristorante in Wayne and Osteria Crescendo in Westwood.

The two are taking their extravagant concept to Miami for the month of January — and have upped the cost of the 13-course feast from $317 to $379 (tax and gratuity included). Not cheap by any means, but supremely delicious.

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Acclaimed chef Robbie Felice is opening a restaurant in Montclair. Here’s what we know

It’s not often that owners of a restaurant-to-be don’t want to let everyone know about their place. They usually are eager to get the word out.

But when asked a day after he was spotted working inside the shuttered Villalobos space on South Fullerton Street in Montclair, acclaimed chef Robbie Felice of Italian restaurants Viaggio in Wayne and Osteria Crescendo in Westwood, said, “I’m sworn to secrecy.”

Felice, who was nominated by the James Beard Foundation for a Rising Star Chef award though ceremonies were canceled due to COVID-19, was there with restaurateur Luck Sarabhayavanija, owner of the ever-growing empire of Ani Ramen House and the brand-new Mochinut Montclair…

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Chef-owner of lauded Italian restaurants in NJ to compete to be the nation’s top pasta chef

Robbie Felice, chef-owner of acclaimed Italian restaurants Viaggio in Wayne and Osteria Crescendo in Westwood, is preparing to compete in a national pasta competition against seven other chefs. If he wins, he will go on to compete for the title of World Pasta Champion in October.

The first round of the competition will be held at the prestigious Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival on April 16.

In that round, Felice hopes to show New York — and the nation — that New Jersey has got real culinary chops too.

“I want to show New York people,” Felice said with his usual enthusiasm. “‘Hey, some Jersey guy just won this,'” he imagined what the scuttlebutt might be should he win.

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James Beard 2020 nominees include 7 New Jersey chefs

New Jersey chefs earned seven spots on the semifinalist list for the James Beard Foundation Awards, among the most prestigious culinary awards in the world.

The nominees include Marciel Presilla of Cucharamama in Hoboken (a 2012 winner of Best Chef-Mid Atlantic and 2013 winner of Cookbook of the Year), Joey Baldino of Zeppoli in Collingswood (this will be his ninth nomination), five-time nominee Dan Richer of Razza in Jersey City, Cookie Till of Steve and Cookie’s in Margate, Robbie Felice of Viaggio Ristorante in Wayne, Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer of Canal House Station in Milford, as well as the restaurant 15 Fox Place in Jersey City.

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The final round of nominees will be announced in Philadelphia on March 25 and the awards gala will take place on May 4 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Since the awards began in 1991, only two New Jersey chefs have received a James Beard award. Craig Shelton, then at The Ryland Inn in Whitehouse, and Maricel Presilla, chef at Cucharamama in Hoboken, both won best chef in the Mid-Atlantic region. Shelton in 2000; Presilla in 2012.

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Robbie Felice, NJ ‘it’ chef, earns deserved James Beard nod, but now he’s feeling the pressure

Esther Davidowitz,

It didn’t take Robbie Felice much time to feel anxious.

Barely 24 hours after Felice, the chef and owner of Viaggio in Wayne and Osteria Crescendo in Westwood, learned that he was nominated for one of the most prestigious culinary awards in the world, was no longer feeling the heady joys of winning. He was now feeling the agonizing fear of losing.

Felice is a semifinalist for the James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year award. Rising Star Chefs, according to the James Beard Foundation, “must be age 30 or younger and display an impressive talent, likely to make a significant impact on the industry for years to come.” Felice is 29.

“I’m already scared of not making the final,” said Felice, sitting on one of the high stools that surround the large, sun-lit bar at Osteria Cresendo, his modern, 80-seat Italian restaurant, which opened in April. (His more rustic, 73-seat BYOB Viaggio celebrated its third anniversary year five months ago.)

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NJ’s top chefs to be featured in gourmet tasting event to benefit Eva’s Village

Esther Davidowitz, North Jersey Record

A dozen top New Jersey chefs will showcase their specialties at a gourmet tasting event Sept. 16 at Battello, chef Ryan DePersio’s modern Italian restaurant that sits on the Hudson River offering heart-stopping views of the Manhattan skyline.

All proceeds will benefit Eva’s Village, the Paterson-based nonprofit organization that provides care and support for people struggling with poverty, hunger, homelessness and addiction.

Eva’s Village also has a culinary school, launched five years ago, that offers job training and placement for underserved members of the community, including graduates from Eva’s addiction recovery program.

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Osteria Crescendo in Westwood Proves that Robbie Felice is a Culinary Superstar

Esther Davidowitz, North Jersey Record Published 7:41 a.m. ET Aug. 7, 2019

I would be hard-pressed to name a new Italian restaurant in North Jersey that’s better than Osteria Crescendo, chef Robbie Felice’s inviting 4-month-old restaurant in downtown Westwood. Actually, I would have a hard time naming any Italian restaurant in North Jersey that’s better than OC.

And I mean Italian restaurant, not Italian-American restaurant. Just as you wouldn’t find chicken parm, penne alla vodka, calamari in marinara sauce or garlic bread in Italy — dishes that no patriotic nonna or self-respecting capocuoco would make — you won’t find them in Osteria Crescendo or, for that matter, Viaggio, Felice’s rustic near-3-year-old BYOB in Wayne.

Felice aims for the real thing: the food that Italians in Italy eat.

The menu, even, is written mostly in Italian. It may charm some, but consider bringing along your smartphone or an Italian-English dictionary if you don’t want to spend valuable time grilling your server on what, say, “cozze al forno,” “involtini di pollo,” or “fungi crespelle” mean…

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‘Drugs take everything from you’: Haledon woman makes a comeback as fine-dining pasta chef

It’s early morning and pasta chef Joyann Demont of Haledon is mixing flour and water in the stainless steel kitchen of the newly opened and ballyhooed Osteria Crescendo in Westwood. Wearing a crisp white chef’s coat, her long dark hair pulled back, Demont works quietly, whisking eggs, pouring salt, kneading dough, flattening the mixture and shaping it into small shells, bow-ties, long strands and large flat noodles.

She makes the prized homemade pasta five days a week — and she couldn’t be happier or more proud.

“I’m working,” said the 28-year-old mother of two. “That’s all that matters.”

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Best dishes we ate in May | North Jersey

Farfalle from Osteria Crescendo, duck fat potatoes from Talde

by: Esther Davidowitz, Rebecca King and Cynthia Schweich Handler, North Jersey Record

There’s a lot of wonderful food in North Jersey, yet often many of us end up eating uninspired, forgettable grub. We at The Record, Daily Record, and, however, frequently go out to eat (some of us readily admit to being food obsessed). And every now and then, we discover knock-your-socks-off dishes. And since we’re in the business of reporting, we thought we’d report back to you on our delicious discoveries so that you can go enjoy terrific food too.

Check back in June — we are determined to share our finds with you every month.

Gamberi Rossi Crudo (Raw Red Prawns), Osteria Crescendo in Westwood

The red prawn crudo at Osteria Crescendo is Robbie Felice’s way to show food lovers “what I can do.” A brief lesson on red prawns: They’re a brilliant red color and their most flavorful part is their head. In Italy, diners suck the “brains” out of the head. Felice assumed that he couldn’t get Jerseyans to do the same. So, instead, he boils the head in flavorless oil to make a kind of soup, and serves that gorgeous pool of bright red with small cubes of the shrimp’s tail that he’s marinated in ginger, lemongrass and garlic. Fresh mint leaves are added to “make everything pop,” he said. $21. — Esther Davidowitz, food editor

Here are 5 North Jersey restaurant openings you may have missed

Esther Davidowitz, North Jersey Record

While you were waiting for spring to arrive, a slew of restaurants opened in North Jersey. Here are 5 restaurant openings you may have missed in the past few months:

Osteria Crescendo, Westwood

The minute chef and owner Robbie Felice announced he would open a second restaurant, his fans could barely wait. They had tasted his homemade pasta, house-cured salumi, and unforgettable chicken cacciatore at his acclaimed Italian restaurant Viaggio in Wayne, and to have another spot to enjoy his culinary magic, well, that was thrilling.

That spot recently opened its doors to reveal a big bar, a first for Felice, and a modern, airy dining room that can seat 80. Its menu, not surprisingly, features hand-made pasta and house-cured salumi plus ethereal arancini. But unlike Viaggio, the entrées are meant to be shared: They’re served on a large scale — whole fish for two, including branzino with morels in a salsa verde ($59) and large in-house, dry-aged steaks such as the Tomahawk ribeye with rosemary potatoes ($159). Bring friends and dig in.

As for cocktails, Bei Sogni with Campari and egg whites should go well with Felice’s Italian fare or, better yet, that Italian classic, Negroni. Enjoy it on a sunny day around one of the sidewalk tables outside and don’t even hesitate for one second: The olive oil cake is a must.

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Viaggio owner announces opening date of second restaurant, Osteria Crescendo, in Westwood

Robbie Felice, chef and owner of Viaggio, the critically acclaimed rustic Italian restaurant in Wayne, is officially opening his second restaurant, Osteria Crescendo, in Westwood on April 9.

Osteria Crescendo, an 80-seat modern restaurant, moved into the space that for years had housed Baci Italian Grill on Jefferson Avenue. Felice’s new spot has a bar — a first for him — that will serve craft cocktails with “Italian influences.”

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