Chances are very good you’ve heard the name.
Ryan DePersio, executive chef and owner of Fascino Restaurant on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair, five times a guest on NBC’s “Today Show,” likewise side-by-side with Tony Tantillo on CBS, and featured on the popular Food Network show "Chopped."
“Yeah, I’d like to do a lot more television; I’m slowly pursuing that,” DePersio claimed as he muncheed on his normal light lunch of grilled chicken and arugula salad while seated at the granite bar of his year-old Broad Street restaurant Bar Cara. “It widens your exposure.”
And with Bar Cara, a casual-chic eatery that can accommodate 140 (and another 40 patrons outside in-season), Depersio was going for a different feel.
“At Fascino, we were creating a mini vacation, with the chef’s tasting menu and keeping the menu market-driven," he said. "Here, we wanted to make it into a neighborhood place, where you can bring the kids to eat or 'Let’s hang out at the bar' late at night.”
Check, check. Fascino is indeed for the refined palate, but many diners are looking for simpler food. Bar Cara is that option, and it’s affordable as well. For lunch, no item is priced higher than $15, and gorgonzola-crusted grilled filet mignon easily (and by far) tops the dinner menu price list at $27. Fine domestic and European wines are available by the bottle or glass, and the latter is available for $10 or less.
Recommended for lunch is the chicken cutlet panini with fontina cheese, roasted long green peppers, with a side of tasty arugula salad for $10. Also, brothers Ryan and Anthony (directors of operations at both Fascino and Bar Cara) now have their own pizza pies on the menu. Anthony’s is a tomato and mozzarella, while the soon to be unveiled quattro formaggio with spicy capicola will bear Ryan’s name.
Kind of edgy - intense almost - kind of like him.
DePersio, who turn 33 on St. Patrick’s Day, also dines with his girlfriend at Bar Cara a few times a week. Seated at the bar, he views the goings-on of his eatery as a patron.
“I’m really hard (on the staff). Sometimes I feel like I need to be tough. I need my staff to think like a DePersio, follow our lead,” he said. He looks at me. “Hey, I was trained in New York City. This (service) is part of the business.”
And, yes, this is a family-owned place. In addition to Ryan and Anthony, mom Cynthia, who has written food for women’s publications like Ladies’ Home Journal, is pastry chef at both locations, and even Ryan’s five-year-old son Nicholas helps out.
“We’ve had him in the kitchen making chocolate chip cookies,” said DePersio with a laugh, "but then he starts to get too involved with the chocolate batter and we have to stop him.”
For DePersio, Bloomfield was a perfect for Bar Cara.
“It’s close to Fascino, it’s close to home," he said, noting that the DePersios all live in neighboring Nutley. "And it’s affordable. You couldn’t ask for a better location.”
1099 Broad Street
Tues. - Thur.: 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.; 5 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Fri.: 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.; 5 - 10:30 p.m.
Sat.: 5 - 10:30 p.m.
Sun.: 3 - 8 p.m.