See the name “Volare” outside the sophisticated restaurant at 2300 Frankfort Ave., and you’re likely to burst into your best Dean Martin imitation – “Vo-la-re oh oh … let’s fly way up to the sky …”
It’s Volare Italian Ristorante that’s soaring now, as managing partners Tarrek Hamada and Joshua Moore (who is also executive chef and pastry chef) lead the celebration of its seventh anniversary. For seven weeks, beginning on Aug. 7, patrons will enjoy $7 cocktails, appetizers, glasses of wine, and desserts.
“It’s our way to thank people who’ve supported us,” Hamada said. “It also gains exposure for this restaurant again. We want people to enjoy ‘the Volare experience,’ which begins with hospitality and service – from the parking valet to the hostess – and includes, of course, the food.”
Chef Josh is revamping the bar menu as part of the festivities. A “slider” made of ground prime beef, topped with a red onion compote and goat cheese, will join the current tenderloin and lamb versions. Bar patrons can enjoy new pizza creations with half-price wine by the bottle.
Moore and Hamada have labored long to reach this milestone. Moore started in the restaurant business 18 years ago and previously worked at Vincenzo’s and Porcini.
“All of my background is Italian; it’s definitely my cuisine of choice,” he said. “I love the variety – everything from pizza to pasta, and variations from northern to southern Italy. It is a broad spectrum of food that I can be creative with.”
His 10-acre farm is the source of about 30 percent of Volare’s summertime produce. He and his wife, Christina, grow organic vegetables such as broccoli, onions, heirloom tomatoes, potatoes, squash and white eggplant, as well as fruits that includes apples, cherries, peaches and raspberries.
“I know where the produce is coming from because I’ve been hands-on with it since the day it started growing,” he said. “People ask, ‘What’s new from chef’s garden today?’”
Hamada has savored Italian food since childhood: His home in Tunisia was so close to Sicily, he could almost catch the aromas drifting on the sea breezes.
“I’ve been in America for 11 years, and started working in New York restaurants. I came to Volare seven years ago as a server,” he said. “I soon became an assistant manager, and was promoted to managing partner last January. Italian cuisine is my favorite, next to Tunisian, of course. Italian food is comfort food; and at Volare, we treat anyone who comes here as family.”
That philosophy extends to the employees, many of whom have worked at Volare for years. The restaurant promotes from within whenever possible. Moore relishes training serious cooking students, the majority of whom study at Sullivan University.
“They take pride in what they’re doing,” he said. “One man in our kitchen started here when he was a teenager. He does a lot of my pastry production now, although he had no formal training. Just the school of hard knocks, which is how I learned.”
In recent years, Volare has learned the value of turning part of its parking lot into a room for private luncheons of 25 to 65 people (the restaurant usually opens at dinnertime). Special events, such as the Tour of Italy Wine Dinner scheduled for Aug. 16, attract new as well as long-time patrons; dinners with regional themes will be held from September through December.
“We’re still flying high, living up to our name,” Hamada said. “Our service and presentation will keep improving because we want to make Volare even better.”
Volare Italian Ristorante is open Sunday-Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m., and Friday-Saturday, 5:30-11 p.m. For information, visit www.volare-restaurant.com or call 502.894.4446.
Category: Business Profile