Featured Chef: Stephen Quici at Duffinetti’s Restaurant & Lounge

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If you’re looking for a great Italian meal in Wildwood during the wintertime, look no further than Duffinetti’s Restaurant and Lounge on Pacific Avenue! With a long history and an incredible team behind the scenes, Duffinetti’s is the classic Italian restaurant that is sure to please all year-round.

The Asselta Family has a long history in the Wildwood restaurant business, dating back to 1947. The original Duffinetti’s opened in 1965 in Wildwood Crest, which was operated by Duffy and Mary Asselta until 1990 when the current owner, Trish Asselta, took over her parent’s business. After 15 wonderful years, Trish closed the doors to Duffinetti’s in 2005… but that wouldn’t last long. After ten years in Florida, Trish knew she wanted to get back into the family business and found the perfect location in Wildwood to reopen Duffientti’s. By 2015, Trish was back in New Jersey and Duffinetti’s was open at their new location on Pacific Avenue.

In 2018, Trish was struggling to find the help that she needed to make Duffinetti’s the best it could be. When she mentioned her need for a new, reliable chef to a friend at a local farmer’s market, he had someone in mind: Stephen Quici.

Stephen had experience in the restaurant business but had spent the last few years in a corporate role in Philadelphia. When he quit his job to find his passion again in early 2018, he came down to Wildwood for the summer with his parents to explore his options at the Jersey Shore. He worked as a bartender at a local bar, still hoping that an opportunity in a restaurant would come along. And it did. By July, Stephen and Trish had met and he took over as executive chef at Duffinetti’s.

“All his life he was going down one path and he had just come to town. Once we met, it turned into a wonderful relationship and an awesome friendship. I truly believe finding him was divine intervention,” Trish said. “He came on board with new ideas and we created a new menu for Duffinetti’s and we have just seen the restaurant blossom.”

When Stephen first arrived, he wanted to make some changes to the menu, but he knew he needed to keep the same, tried and true recipes that the family had been using for the past 40 years. The rice pudding, the gravy, the lobster bisque, the lasagna… they, among others, would all remain exactly the same. Stephen added some new additions to the menu, including sautéed gnocchi and Bolognese sauce that still used the family’s gravy recipe, to expand the offering and give customers more delicious options. He made sure they had the best quality ingredients they could possibly have to keep the food fantastic and consistent for every customer, every day.

When Trish reopened Duffinetti’s Restaurant and Lounge in 2015, she could only dream of the success she has today with Stephen by her side. This is the second year Duffinetti’s has been open year-round and they don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon! Every day Trish and Stephen realize the success of the business they’ve grown, even at the bar during their popular happy hours from 4 to 6 daily. While they have made many changes over the past year and a half, they are always working to provide their customers with the best food and experience possible. For Duffinetti’s, the best is yet to come!

Make your reservation at Duffinetti’s today to experience Chef Quici’s spectacular food and the welcoming atmosphere for yourself. For reservations, call (609) 522-0002. Duffinetti’s is located at 4600 Pacific Ave. in Wildwood. The restaurant is open from 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; happy hour is from 4 to 6 p.m. For more information about Duffinetti’s, call (609) 522-0002, visit www.duffinettis.com, or follow updates on their Facebook page.

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