12 Feb OLIMPIA ZUCCARELLI: LIFE, LOVE, AND PASSION
Olimpia Zuccarelli grew up in the restaurant business, literally. Her parents Frances and Ralph Zuccarelli opened Zuccarelli’s Italian Kitchen 32 years ago with old family recipes brought with them when they emigrated from Italy. To this day that tradition is kept alive in the kitchen. There are no shortcuts here. They use the finest ingredients carefully blended, cooked and served with love.
Olimpia is on a first name basis with most of the locals who have been enjoying the traditional Italian flavors and friendly atmosphere for many years. Customers travel from near and far making Zuccarelli’s their destination for dining pleasure. They have become old friends and part of their extended families. Zuccarelli’s is a place to bring visitors from out of town to introduce them to a taste of authentic Italian food in South Florida. To quoteOlimpia, “This is my house and our guests are my family”.
And as her “family” continues to grow Olimpia wants to encourage patrons to make this a destination that they want to come back to again and again. Following her strong work ethic passed down to her from her mother she never asks anything of her staff that she wouldn’t do herself. She believes in leading by example and being hands on each and every day. Treating them this way makes for happy staff and a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It also shows in the loyalty of her employees, many of whom have been working there for 10 years or more. A couple of staff members hold the distinction of working with the Zuccarelli family for over 20 years!
The restaurant has been in its current location for 3 years. It has given them the opportunity to expand and fulfill her dream of making Zuccarelli’s a “one stop shop”. Add to this a huge amount of take-out business as well as catering and you truly do have a place for all of your entertaining needs.
Olimpia is extremely proud of her family’s accomplishments and of their kitchen. She adds that the heart of the house is the kitchen. Italian food is simple it just needs heart and soul to make it taste good, not a lot of fussing with. MamaOlimpia are always there. There are many dishes that no one else can make. The focus is on having consistently high quality ingredients. Fish is bought daily so that it is always fresh. And the open kitchen is always spotless and in plain view of the guests.
As for the front of the house it is always being updated to look fresh and clean. Olimpia goes to Verona, Italy each April to attend a huge wine show. This helps her keep the wine list exclusive, unique and reasonably priced.
Keeping traditions alive the restaurant observes St. Joseph’s Day and Festa della Donne in March as well as seafood on Christmas Eve. But Zuccarelli’s is closed on holidays so that they and their staff can spend it with their families.
You would think that Olimpia already had enough on her plate. But in addition to having grown up in the restaurant business and raising a son, now 23, she has a cookbook and memoir which is soon to be released. We were privileged to get the exclusive scoop on the title, “A Chair at My Table, Living, Cooking, Eating and Living a Zuccarelli”. The book is expected to be released within the next couple of months. It is a book about real working women and will include about 35 of those delicious, traditional, original Zuccarelli recipes. What’s next for Olimpia Zuccarelli? A television show, perhaps?Olimpia Zuccarelli beams when she talks of her family and about her restaurant. She is proud to be named for her beloved late grandmother. And she is thankful for her loyal customers who have recognized Zuccarelli’s Italian Kitchen as the best authentic Italian restaurant in South Florida. Be sure to stop by and say hello. You can expect to be welcomed with warmth, a genuine love for her restaurant and maybe even a big hug.