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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