Chef-Owner – Osteria Crescendo, Westwood, NJ
Chef-Owner – Viaggio Ristorante, Wayne, NJ
Chef-Owner – Pasta Ramen, Montclair, NJ
Chef Robbie Felice has been in restaurants since before he could remember. His father, Joe Felice had owned multiple restaurants during the course of his childhood—Robbie literally learned to walk in these very kitchens. After a childhood surrounded by the industry, he was accepted into the Culinary Institute of America where he graduated in 2011. Following school, he put in multiple years of work between the legendary Babbo in New York City and B&B Ristorante in Las Vegas, where he became Sous Chef along with running the Salumi Program at the Company’s many Las Vegas locations.
Hungry for more, Felice put in numerous stages at Michelin-Starred restaurants across the globe‚—including Sergio Herman’s 2-Michelin-Star Pure-C in The Netherlands, and 2-Michelin-Star The Jane in Belgium. From there, he traveled throughout Europe, where he was exposed to various cultures and cuisines, refined his technique, and forged his own unique signature and style. After his travels, Robbie landed back in New York City in 2015, joining 2-Michelin-Star The Modern.
Felice was able to transform the lessons and experiences he learned from an early point in his career into his own culinary success. In 2016, at just 26 years of age, Felice and his father decided to open their first restaurant together—birthing Viaggio Ristorante in Wayne, New Jersey. Felice unveiled a restaurant true to his cooking philosophy— locally sourced ingredients used to create traditional Italian fare with a modern touch. Viaggio earned him a spot on NJ Monthly’s 30 Best Restaurants in New Jersey, NJ Monthly’s Talent on the Rise, The Record’s 17 People to Watch in 2017, and two 3 ½ star reviews from both The Record, and New Jersey’s largest publication, The Star Ledger.
A multitude of accolades paved the way for Robbie to open his second restaurant, Osteria Crescendo, in 2019 where he specializes in modernized Italian fare, in-house dry-aged steaks and chops, and Italian street food at its bar. After five short months, Osteria Crescendo joined Viaggio with a spot on NJ Monthly’s 30 Best Restaurants in New Jersey. Osteria Crescendo brought Felice a glowing review from North Jersey Media Head Food Editor, Esther Davidowitz, where she referred to him as a “Culinary Superstar”. Multiple James Beard House appearances, including a solo dinner on August 19th, 2019, a nomination for Eater Young Guns 2020, being named New Jersey’s Industry Chef of the Year, and finally receiving recognition as one of the most important people of the past decade in the New Jersey restaurant scene by northjersey.com.
In early 2020, when a pandemic took the world by storm, Felice did anything but slow down. With indoor dining momentarily on pause, Robbie turned Viaggio into a marketplace—selling farm-fresh produce, sandwiches, dry-aged steaks, and fresh pastas and sauces. Men’s Journal noted this feat in their 2020 article, The Pivot: How Chef Robbie Felice is Shifting Gears During the Pandemic.
Unsatisfied with standing still, Robbie turned to his friend, Luck Sarabhayavanija of Montclair Hospitality Group, and conceptualized what would become one of the most talked about pop-ups not only in NJ, but across the nation. pastaRAMEN started as a high end, invite-only omakase that combined Italian and Japanese flavors. The cuisine, which Robbie calls “Wafu Italian”, would prove to be a hit, and was included in Ok! Magazine’s Things We’re Obsessed With, Us Magazine’s Buzzometer, and Restaurant Business’ Is Wafu Cuisine the Next Big Thing.
After a few months of critical acclaim in New Jersey and New York, Robbie and the pastaRAMEN team moved the invite-only omakase to Miami. Eater named pastaRAMEN one of the 14 best new restaurants in Miami (14 New Restaurants to Try in Miami, June 2022), despite only popping up in the city for a total of two months. Ocean Drive, a Miami based publication, said “PastaRAMEN has taken the city [Miami] by storm” in their February article, Inside Miami’s New Wafu-Italian Secret Pop-Up. At the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, Felice took home first prize for Best Bite On the Beach with his Croquette Di Ramen—a playful ramen-stuffed croquette.
Back home in NJ, Robbie’s two stand-still restaurants, Osteria Crescendo and Viaggio Ristorante, each earned a spot on New Jersey Digest’s 25 Best Restaurants of 2022, marking yet another “Best Of” list that Robbie would find his way onto.
During his Miami stint, Felice became good friends with his now partner, Jason Panzer, CEO of Hexclad. Hexclad is an innovative culinary company that Robbie uses throughout his restaurants and pop ups. The partnership with Hexclad has been a crucial part of the success of the brand, paving the way for new and creative ways to disrupt the food and beverage industry. Forbes highlights this partnership in The Cookware Gordon Ramsay Calls ‘The Rolls Royce Of Pans’ (forbes.com)
After Miami, pastaRAMEN decided to hit the west coast and pop up in locations throughout Seattle and Los Angeles (East Meets West: pastaRAMEN Heads to Los Angeles). After two years of strictly being an invite-only omakase—and with Hexclad and Montclair Hospitality Group by his side—Felice opened his third restaurant; a more casual, brick-and-mortar version of the pastaRAMEN pop-ups. It is Robbie’s version of an “Italian Ramen Shop” and it has quickly become one of the most popular restaurants in New Jersey.
The addition of a standalone shop has proven to be a success for the pastaRAMEN brand—promptly selling out reservations each month since opening. Felice, of course, still has a knack for the invite-only experience, though. Popping up with the pastaRAMEN omakase concept in both the Hamptons and SOHO in the summer of 2023 (Robbie Felice’s ‘secret’ Japanese-Italian restaurant pops up in NYC salon). Saveur Magazine noted the success of the pastaRAMEN concept in their article titled These Two Noodle-Loving Cultures Tangle Seamlessly on the Plate, stating “He wanted more diners to experience how elegantly the two cuisines [Japanese and Italian] blend, a chemistry he attributes in part to their symbiotic base flavors… From Miami to Seattle to Los Angeles, demand and interest followed the pop-up around the country.”
In four quick months pastaRAMEN’s Montclair brick-and-mortar found itself alongside its two sister restaurants on the list for The 30 Best Restaurants in New Jersey published by NJ Monthly. Robbie appeared solo on the cover of the NJ Monthly print issue, which has spread across the state.
So, what’s next? Felice always has projects in the works. Right now, he is working on expanding the pastaRAMEN brand with a brick and mortar in Bellevue, Washington, adding a speakeasy bar alongside his restaurant in Montclair, and opening an artisanal Italian deli. If there is one thing Robbie hates, it’s standing still—for him, there is always more work to be done.