Cafe Assisi: A Wrentham Mainstay for a Decade
Cafe Assisi owner Derek DiBiase said he was trained by Luciano Canovo.
Derek DiBiase has run the Assisi Café in Wrentham for about a decade, but he said he’s been working in the restaurant business for a lot longer.
“I grew up in an Italian family,” he said. “A lot of our great experience together took place around the dinner table. It was like a community kitchen, all my friends would come over.”
DiBiase said he started at Sabaloines in Boston and then came to Wrentham to work at the Route 1 Luciano's in Wrentham.
“I started off there just busing tables, but that’s where I really found a love for the business side of the industry,” he said.
DiBiase said his love of food developed over time, and, unlike many Italian restaurants, he has a regionally eclectic style of food.
“We try to take from each region of Italy,” he said. “We don’t really narrow ourselves to the north or south, we’re kind of broad. Like for instance many of the pasta dishes would be more of the northern style and the fish dishes are from the southern style. I don’t like to say this dish is from the north and this is from the south. For me, it’s more about being creative and putting it all together.”
One look at the restaurant’s Web site and you get the sense that style is also very important to DiBiase.
“It’s about the whole picture,” he said. You can’t just do one thing well. Customers need to have all their senses involved. You can’t just make a nice meatball, if you don’t present it the right way it’s not going to have the same impact. We’re homestyle cooking, but we like to take the little bit of extra time to present it in another way.”
DiBiase said though he has many favorite dishes on the menu, he feels one has more of an impact on him than many others. He said the veal gino is more of an emotional dish for him.
“There’s a history behind it for me,” he said. “My father’s friend used to own a restaurant in Boston. We’d order it every time we went there. My brother and I, that’s all we ever ate. It brings back a lot of memories for me.”
DiBiase said he felt very fortunate working for Luciano Canova in Wrentham, because it gave him a handle on the cooking and business side of he business.
“He’s very successful,” he said. “To have that type of environment was great, because he really showed me some of the most important things about the business that makes a huge impact in becoming successful.”
DiBiase added one of those pointers is to always work with your staff well.
“I never like to think of myself as the sole person that’s involved in making the restaurant successful,” he said. “The ability for my staff to put out a great product and work hard and sell what they do makes a difference. I’m only one person at the restaurant. They do their jobs so efficiently and they represent what our vision is about what a restaurant should be. We work for and with one another, not just for ourselves.”