Monday, February 6, 2012
Have you tried the new DiNic's in Reading Terminal Market? We're delighted to report that it's just like the old DiNic's--I mean, why mess with perfection--but bigger. We caught up with owner Tommy Nicolosi last week and he was kind enough to take some time from his busy schedule to chat with us.
PFL: How long have you been in the business?
TN: My whole life. I was literally born into it. Fortunately, I love it. My wife says it all the time: You go to bed happy, you wake up happy. She's right, as usual. I see hundreds of people every day. I work with the other merchants, we cooperate for the good of the Market. I love the interaction; I would go crazy in an office by myself. I also love the actual business--working with the meat, cooking, I'm a lucky man to have the chance to do something that I really enjoy.
PFL: Tell us about the expansion, and the move to the former Och's Butcher Shop space.
TN: We did this for one reason: Our customers. Our old space only allowed us 2 cooks, so our customers had to wait. Now we have 4 cooks, so the wait time is much, much less. We also have a lot more seating so people can be comfortable. I feel the ghost of Harry Ochs every day--in a positive way. Harry was a good friend and such a presence in the Market.
PFL: What is the secret to a great sandwich?
TN: (laughing) That is a GREAT question. I LOVE that question. The secret is that there is no secret. It's all about the fundamentals. The techniques are centuries old: brown the meat, caramelize the onions, deglaze the pan, use the classic cooking methods with quality ingredients and you'll have a great sandwich. Check any cookbook and learn the basics. We make everything from scratch and we don't skimp on the fundamentals.
PFL: What changes have you seen in the business?
TN: Broccoli Rabe. I grew up eating broccoli rabe 2, 3 times a week, but until recently a lot of people had never heard of it, and when they tried it they didn't like the strong flavor. Twenty-five years ago, we'd stock it but it would go bad in the kitchen because on one ate it. Then about five years ago, my son suggested we try it again, and it became so popular that we can barely keep enough in stock.
PFL: What's your favorite sandwich?
TN: Brisket. It's my least profitable item because of the cost of the ingredients, but I love it.
We're hard pressed to choose a favorite, but we'll certainly enjoy exploring the inventory in our decision making process.