Robbie Felice epitomizes a flavor and fashion crescendo with his new restaurant in Westwood
Written, styled & photographed by Heather Zwain
The Bergen County Bible hit the streets of
Westwood in late January to do an exclusive
fashion shoot showcasing Felice's personal
style. Heather Zwain, Founder and
Editor-in-Chief of The BCB styled
Felice in clothing and sneakers from
neighboring business, Sneaker Lounge.
The two chatted about fashion, food, lifestyle,
and his new restaurant opening in April in
The BCB: Describe your personal style.
RF: My personal style usually starts with a
fresh pair of sneakers. I’m a huge sneaker
head. I would say that I'm pretty casual, but
on the days that I'm not in the kitchen, I throw on a watch to dress up my look a little. My love of European style really started when I lived over there...long shirts, tighter pants, cool sneakers.
The BCB: How is your personal clothing style reflective in your food?
RF: I care about my style and equally care about the presentation of my food. You always eat with your eyes first so I make sure that every dish I present is beautiful. Style for me is the same...it’s kind of like a first impression. I’d like to say my food has a lot of European style and cool techniques which matches my personal style.
The BCB: You’ve traveled around the world and worked in some well renowned restaurants. How have these experiences influenced your overall style from fashion to food?
RF: I've seen a lot. But honestly the one that means most to me was working in Europe for Sergio Herman. Not just him but all the chefs under him. First I was at his spot called Pure C with him and Syrco Bakker in Cadzand, Netherlands. After that I was lucky enough to go down to Antwerp, Belgium and work along side both Nick Bril and Herman at The Jane. When I got down there they had just opened and now it’s considered to be one of the most beautiful restaurants in the world and has two Michelin stars! Herman, Bakker, and Bril were the people that no matter what they where saying it was always so meaningful and taught me so much. I learned so much about the restaurant business, style, fashion, cooking, and literally every little detail that goes into a restaurant. I guess to sum it all up, these were the guys that taught me about vibes. Every restaurant creates a vibe and that vibe is important. You give off a vibe with your style...everything should match.
The BCB: What drives you?
RF: Always wanting more. Never being satisfied.
The BCB: How would you describe your style of cooking?
RF: Italian. No matter what fancy labels you want to put on it. I cook Italian food
and sometimes throw some fun, cool, and modern techniques in there along the
The BCB: How do you want people to feel when they’re eating your food?
RF: Happy. Amazed. Excited.
The BCB: What are your top three fashion go-to’s currently in your closet?
RF: I've been living in my Viaggio hoodie all winter (Viaggio is Felice's first restaurant in Wayne). We have a joke at Viaggio that no matter who puts one on you just look better in it. If you asked any of us why? We couldn’t tell you. It has this little butcher pig on the sleeve right where I have the same pig tattooed on my wrist. I designed it but, other people think it’s cool too! Besides that, I always go for long tees or long hoodies. I've been wearing joggers a lot lately too.
The BCB: As a chef, you’re usually behind the scenes in the kitchen. What does your attire look like there and how much does it vary from your clothing choices when you’re outside of the kitchen? Or does it go hand in hand?
RF: It's all about comfort in the kitchen, but I still like to look stylish. I've been hooked on these white clogs from Germany for eight years now and get a new pair every six months. I usually wear skinny pants, which I think looks neater than typical chef pants. I’m big on all the chef coat and apron brands like Tilit, Hedley and Bennett. I guess both my styles are a lot alike.
The BCB: What is one thing that you’d want people to know about you that the majority wouldn’t know?
RF: I’m 50 percent Dutch and lived in Holland for a little while!
The BCB: Why did you choose Westwood as the home of your second restaurant? How special is it to you that you’re opening a second restaurant and coming onto the Bergen County scene?
RF: I wouldn’t really say I chose it. I’d say that it fell into my lap.
But I’m honestly so glad it did. Westwood is such an amazing town
with an awesome little downtown. Our corner location for Osteria Crescendo
is a home run and is absolutely gorgeous. I feel like it's every New Jersey
restaurant owner/chefs dream restaurant. I’m very excited. It still didn't feel
real that it’s my second spot until this week with all of the prep work. I am
extremely grateful and excited for Osteria Crescendo to be in Bergen County.
I think it’s an amazing county that is well known not only in New Jersey but
also across the country.