The Fat Tuna Grill, across from the Millville Volunteer Fire Company on Route 26, recently welcomed incoming executive chef Mike Persichetti, of New York.
Persichetti completed his studies at the well-regarded Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 1994.
At age 32, he has passed the intervening years as a restaurant owner — La Luna, in Atlanta, and has more than eight years of service as an executive chef under his belt.
Before La Luna, he worked at Veni Vidi Vici and before that, in New York City, the Bridgeville Yacht Club, Princepassa and Dodici.
He grew up on Long Island.
“I have relatives who’ve been cooking for a long time, in Manhattan,” Persichetti said. “My parents, my grandparents — it’s in the blood. Cooking is a natural thing for me.”
He said he liked inventing new offerings and getting artistic with the traditional standbys. Persichetti emphasized creativity in all things — presentation, flavors and cooking methods. He expected to exercise a bit more of an influence by the beginning of March.
“The last two weeks have been crazy, meeting all the vendors, but I’ve been playing with the sauces,” he confided.
Also in the works, Persichetti said he hoped to open at least part of the lunch menu for delivery, and expand Fat Tuna’s banquet catering capabilities.
He said he hoped to host more local events during Fat Tuna’s second year, and in the meantime, he anticipated the continuation of Fat Tuna’s popular weekly specials — lasagna on Tuesdays, fried chicken on Wednesdays and meatloaf with mashies on Thursdays, with prime rib on the weekend.
Persichetti said he’d always wanted to do American Regional cuisine — despite all the people who’d pegged him as strictly Italian over the years, because of his name.
According to Fat Tuna owner Steve Parrill, former executive chef Deke Reichardt’s wife had inherited a house and they had moved back to Nebraska.
“I covered things for a few months, but with spring and summer coming, I knew I wouldn’t have enough time on my hands to keep it up,” he said. One of his vendors knew he was on the lookout, and recommended Persichetti.
“We talked quite a few times and I thought he would be a perfect match,” said Parrill.
For his part, Persichetti said he loved the ocean, and the Delaware shore was very similar to his own familiar Long Island beaches.
However, being familiar with coastal resorts, he noted the tendency of many restaurant owners to adopt a get-‘em-in, get-‘em out mentality, sacrificing quality for quantity.
“They think, ‘We’re only going to see these people once a year — they’ll be gone next week,” Persichetti grumbled. He assured customers of a better experience at Fat Tuna.
“It’s going to be special,” he guaranteed.
For more information, reach the Fat Tuna Grill at 541-8200.