Pitillo Expanding to Olean
Pitillo Opening New Style Restaurant in Olean
By Chad Neal
Last year some time when Katy Arena was in the onset of her second business venture Katy’s Fly In she came across an old marble table top which has history and involves Nick Pitillo owner of Villaggio in Ellicottville. Years ago circa 1976-77, Nick Pitillo’s father Michael Pitillo Sr. owned My Place restaurant, which was located where Peak Performance is today along with two other businesses, The Ski Rack retail shop in the middle and on the other side a bar called The Amber Goblet. Pitillo Sr. made pizzas on the large slab of marble “easily 300-350 lbs” in My Place for years and brought on a young Danny Dineen to work for him making pizzas on the same slab. Nick Pitillo telling the Villager this local history of a “family heirloom” went on to say that after his father’s passing, Dineen went on to work for the Eddy family in Great Valley making pizzas on the same marble slab from the My Place restaurant. And on that day last year, Pitillo asked Katy Arena about the marble and she showed him the “heirloom”, and gave it to him. Not knowing exactly where to use it at the time, Pitillo told the Villager he couldn’t use it at Villaggio, but when the idea and opportunity came to open Mercato in Olean he realized the fate of the large marble slab table top.
Along with General Manager of Villaggio, Spencer Murray – Nick Pitillo upon a proposal from Murray wanted to take his third business plan of Mercato (meaning market) in Buffalo in the Expo Market to Olean. After finding the right location in the southern Cattaraugus County city, they unveiled the plans to the public. The Villager caught up with both Murray and Pitillo to get the skinny on the new digs. Murray wrote back in an e-mail explaining his visualization for Mercato-Olean:
“I have been looking into Olean for quite some time now, doing my research and going to look at places. Once I started to formulate the plan and things seemed right, I approached Nick with the idea. Over some time and seeing things for himself, he decided to let me continue on with the plans. There are a lot of people in Olean and a lot of good people who we feel are looking for some fresh new ideas. We felt as though our concept would work well with our price points and customer service. We are very much looking forward to being a part of the community which we know we’ll have to gain that respect, which we will work extremely hard at. I will be running the operation as well as maintaining my role at Villaggio, which is extremely important to me.”
The Villager asked Murray about who they will employ, he said, “We are not bringing in Buffalo people to run it or work it on the regular, but everything we do in our company is together and as a family so I’m sure people will be in and out training and helping set the vibe.”
Explaining what Mercato is going to be all about Murray wrote, “The place is a quick service restaurant with the idea of quality food fast, being interactive with our guests and maintaining an upbeat and energetic atmosphere. There will be a create your own pasta and pizza bar. Walk up to the counter and tell your creator what you want and we make it right in front of you. To go along with that is our Mediterranean bar where you create your own fresh plate. Create a regular house salad, Caesar salad or enjoy some house-marinated olives, fine cheeses and tomato bruschetta. Or just pile it all together and go crazy with it. The idea of it all is come in and get something different everyday that you create with plenty of options. You can sit in and eat or take out. We will also have all of our catering available for business, schools and events in the area. We’ll employ around 5-6 employees, and are currently looking for help. We are looking to form a creative culinary culture where the cooks are the front of house employees creating a fun and energetic experience.”
Mercato in Olean is the new home for the heirloom marble table top. Pitillo says “it’s just short of the size of my truck bed.” The pasta and pizza bar will be the section of Mercato where the slab of marble will call home. Nick reminisced about the smooth table top his father made pizzas on and said about 25 years ago he went to visit Danny Dineen at Eddy’s restaurant and he showed Pitillo the “pizza marble”. Dineen went on to other endeavors as well, but the marble stayed with the building and on a whim Pitillo asked Katy Arena – who owns the old Eddy’s restaurant now – about it and he was reunited with familial historical piece. Pitillo said he is “Extremely grateful to Katy for returning it, it is very sentimental to my family.”
Pitillo is also excited about pizzas being made on the “pizza marble” again at Mercato in Olean. Pitillo, in an interview told the Villager more about the new restaurant also. Pitillo said it will be a counter service restaurant with approximately 30 seats. He also said they will serve beer and wine as well. Along with the service bars Murray explained, the pasta and pizza, the Mediterranean, it’s going to be a “really solid build your own salad bar! We’ll do it by weight. A grab and go!” he said.
Pitillo added that they will have a retail portion as well selling bottled sauces, such as their marinara sauce and others. He also shared that they will be working with local farmers, getting seasonal produce, farm fresh eggs, and he emphasized getting in touch with a honey farmer. Plans are also in for the making for a weekly Farmer’s Market. Nick expressed they want to be involved in the local community. He explained they want to put inexpensive meals on plates or to go, and not be the unhealthy fast food and nothing outrageous monetarily. Nick also expressed expanding into Salamanca, Jamestown and Bradford with similar Mercato restaurants.
The location of the new restaurant will be at 213 N. Union St. in Olean across from the JCC campus area. They are looking at opening Mercato in the middle of August and will be open from 11am-8pm for the time being.