Chef-Owner – Osteria Crescendo, Westwood, NJ
Chef-Owner – Viaggio Ristorante, Wayne, NJ
Chef-Owner – Pasta Ramen, n/a
Chef Robbie Felice has been in restaurants since before he could walk. His father, Joe Felice had owned multiple restaurants during the course of his childhood. After a childhood surrounded by the industry, he was accepted into the Culinary Institute of America where he graduated with an Associates Degree in 2011. Shortly following his graduation, 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.
He also worked in several other restaurants across the country. Hungry for more, he 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, touching France, The UK, Italy, and Spain where he was exposed to various cultures and cuisines, refined his technique, and forged his own unique signature and style. 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. In his pursuit of authenticity, 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 at just 28 years old 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, making him one of two chefs in the state to have two spots on the list. 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. This quick thinking killed multiple birds with one stone. It helped move along products that would have otherwise gone to waste, it offered his loyal customers an opportunity to have a taste of Felice’s food at home, and it created a market that was accessible for those weary of attending the busy supermarkets at the height of the lockdown. 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 Ani Ramen, and conceptualized what would become one of the most talked about pop-ups not only in NJ, but across the nation. Pasta Ramen was the name, and it was a high end, omakase approach that combined Italian and Japanese flavors. The catch? It’s invite-only, and at a secret location that is only told to you once the reservation is confirmed. 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 Pasta Ramen team moved the invite-only omakase to Miami where they planned to stay a month. When a month flew by, Miami residents and press begged him to stay just a little longer. Eater named Pasta Ramen 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 “Pasta Ramen 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.
Felice keeps a strong social media presence, and continues to use everything he has been taught to his own advantage. Never settling for the minimum has been his career outline thus far, and his strive to be the best he can be has cemented him as one of the great chefs in not only New Jersey, but now across the entire country.
So, what’s next? Felice always has projects in the works. Right now, he is working on bringing the Pasta Ramen experience to Los Angeles this September— it’ll be the first time the coveted omakase experience makes it to the West Coast. Additionally, a more casual, brick-and-mortar version of the spot is poised to open this year. PastaRAMEN Montclair will be Robbie’s vision of an “Italian Ramen Shop,” but unlike its sister restaurant, which moves from city to city, it’s here to stay.