We are so excited to be featured in the July 10, 2018 edition of Tampa Bay Business Journal
As Osteria preps to open in downtown Tampa, Nocturnal and Fabio Viviani are already cooking up a new concept for Fly Bar space
He knew for certain he wanted a chef of Viviani’s caliber on board — Pescante, who was born in Italy, says the best Italian food he’s ever had stateside was at Viviani’s Siena Tavern in Chicago.
What Pescante didn’t know is that he and Viviani were already acquainted, having met years ago through mutual friends in Italy in the early aughts. Viviani is from Tuscany; Pescante is from Rome. And on a 2017 visit to Tampa, on a recommendation from a friend, Viviani visited Franklin Manor, which is owned by Pescante’s Nocturnal Hospitality Group. When Pescante wrote to Viviani about Osteria, Viviani saw Franklin Manor in Pescante’s email signature and was immediately intrigued.
“We didn’t call each other for Christmas,” Viviani said. “It was just through good friends and mutual friends, like you know the best friend of your cousin.”
That long-ago connection has blossomed into a partnership between Viviani and Nocturnal, which is about to open Osteria, its first joint project, and already has other concepts under development. While Osteria is in the spotlight right now, Viviani and Nocturnal are set to close on their purchase of Fly Bar’s real estate two days before Osteria’s grand opening on Sept. 30. In the Fly Bar space, they plan to open Mole y Abuela, a Spanish tapas restaurant, in early 2019.
Osteria is on the ground floor of Nine15, a 23-story apartment tower across North Franklin Street from Franklin Manor. Fly Bar’s building is a tenth of a mile north of Osteria and Franklin Manor, also on North Franklin Street.
Osteria and Mole y Abuela will bring even more life and vibrancy to North Franklin Street, which was all but dead when Nocturnal opened Franklin Manor there in 2016. Nocturnal is comprised of Pescante and business partner David Anderson, as well as several silent investors who vary by project.
As Tampa Heights develops with restaurants and revitalized single family homes, the North Franklin Street corridor is a key link between the central business district and the Heights’ historic storefronts.
“We look at it as creating a neighborhood of entertainment,” Pescante said.
Osteria will bring an “authentic, truly Italian approach” to food and hospitality, Viviani says.
“Our menu will truly be 75 percent as traditional as it gets, and then there will be components that are not,” he said. “We are going to have great burgers, and some other ingredients that my mom probably wouldn’t order, but [those dishes] will have the same craftsmanship.
“The goal here is to truly serve a great dining experience with the most Italian hospitality.”
Authentic Italian hospitality, Viviani says, is one thing he absolutely won’t compromise on. It’s about a total experience, he says, and depends on servers’ and hosts’ emotional intelligence.
Pulling that off requires an intensive training program. Viviani has brought his team from Chicago to Tampa to train the Osteria crew, for five- and six-hour sessions that span two weeks.
“While the food is going to be a huge component of the success of Osteria, the hospitality component is just as important,” he said. “It’s about the ability to read the table and create a rapport with the customer.”
Osteria will open with dinner service and expand to lunch and brunch service in three to four months, Pescante said. He envisions the restaurant as a place that’s just as appropriate for a date night as it is for a business meeting.
It will also have a nightlife component, which is Nocturnal’s specialty.
“That’s what I don’t do, the later night crowd,” Viviani said. “I think this is why, from a business perspective, this is a match made in heaven. They are very good at bringing people to a party at whatever location they have. What I do is serve people before they go out and have fun, so it’s a good match.
“We will serve a very large pool of people that have very, very different needs.”