MORRISVILLE — Restaurateur Vincent Barresi is a fixture in North Raleigh, and he recently expanded his reach to Morrisville. He opened Cucina di Milano in August.
Im a 540 boy now, Barresi said of his new commute on the Outer Loop.
Located in Grace Park, a mixed-use community at the intersection of Davis Drive and Morrisville Carpenter Road, Cucina di Milano already has built a base of regular customers from the surrounding townhomes and nearby neighborhoods.
With an Italian chef in the kitchen, the menu features authentic Italian-style dishes, including homemade manicotti, fresh seafood and handcrafted sauces. The Milan influence is a nod to Barresis Italian parents favorite city.
I trained my chef 12 years ago when he was 19, Barresi said. He started out as a dishwasher. Now hes a better cook than me.
Barresi, best known in Raleigh as the owner of Vincents, also runs catering and cheesecake businesses. For Cucina di Milano, he partnered with an investment group from New York.
I like what I do, he said. Ive been doing it by myself for 20 years. (My partner) has the desire and ability to make it happen faster.
For the past three months, Barresi has devoted himself to the Morrisville eatery. The most extensive work was done in outfitting the kitchen, he said. Myriad details have kept him busy since that project was completed.
During a recent interview, he excused himself several times to greet customers and to help with preparations for the grand opening that evening. He compares the process of launching a new business to nurturing a newborn.
I needed to spend all my time with it, he said. Now its almost ready to walk on its own.
The intimate dining room seats 125 at tables and the bar. Outdoor patio seating is also available.
On weekends, the restaurant takes on a more festive atmosphere, with live music and sporting events playing on the big-screen TVs. A loyalty program allows patrons to access coupons and specials from their smartphones.
The restaurant is closed Sundays to accommodate private parties.
General Manager Daryl Holland is pleased with the progress.
We took our time getting ready, he said. We did things the right way.
Cucina di Milano caters to a variety of palates. In addition to traditional fare, the extensive menu includes vegetarian, gluten-free and organic choices.
We want to attract people who like to eat real foodies, Barresi said.