There aren’t many advantages to record-setting freezing temperatures, but Davio’s in Center City is offering at least one.
Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse is providing a free order of its signature spring rolls to any visitor who shows proof of the temperature being below freezing. Anyone can visit the second floor of the Provident Bank Building on South 17th Street where the promotion is expected to last till the end of February.
Ettore Ceraso, director of operations and general manager of the Philadelphia Davio’s, said the idea behind this promotion came last year when the restaurant was looking to increase business at its bar. Thus far, Ceraso said it’s been effective.
“People came in and they got their free spring rolls, but then they bought a drink and stayed for dinner,” Ceraso said. “It was a fun event, and people got a kick out of us giving something for free, so this year we decided to do it again.”
The restaurant serves a variety of traditional northern Italian dishes, with a focus on homemade pastas, seafood and steaks, all centered around a “focus on the grill.” The staff, however, has not been afraid to change menu traditions by including its spring rolls as a featured item.
Spring rolls are typically not a part of an Italian restaurant, but after seeing how popular they were at staff meals, owner Steve DeFillippo decided to add it into the menu. The appetizer became so popular that Davio’s created its own brand of hand-rolled spring rolls for retail distribution.
The restaurant has even started to make adjustments to the appetizer. After adding a cheesesteak filling, DeFillippo included the new Philly cheesesteak spring rolls to its menu.
Davio’s was started in Boston in 1985. The restaurant has opened up three locations in the past five months, most recently in Manhattan, N.Y.
“For a restaurant to be successful, you have to have consistently good food, but what brings people back is service and getting to know the guests,” Ceraso said.
Thomas Heck, chef at Davio’s, mentioned that some of the staff, including Ceraso and himself, used to work at Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts, which gave them useful experience.
“We have a bit of a pedigree as Four Seasons vets,” Heck said. “We know what it takes to entertain people properly and give them good value for their dollar and good service. Service is the key for any good operation.”
Heck said a customer once asked him to recreate a lemon doberge cake, which wasn’t featured on the menu. After taking on the challenge, it’s become a dessert option at the restaurant.
“A lot goes into the planning of the menu, because we want things to be right so people are really feeling like they are getting the Davio’s experience,” Ceraso said.
Davio’s prices are on the steeper side, but with Center City District Restaurant Week coming up, customers can order $20 three-course lunches or $35 three-course dinners.
Chuck Brotstein, the bartender who is the first person customers see when entering Davio’s, talked about the importance of respecting and making guests feel comfortable.
“We treat the customers the way we want to be treated ourselves, like they’re in our living room” Brotstein said. “We’re a ‘yes’ restaurant, and we like to make people feel comfortable.”
Albert Hong can be reached at email@example.com.