Massimo Dellolio was a bit “overwhelmed” when he met celebrity chef and TV host Guy Fieri for the first time last spring.
Dellolio is the chef and manager of the Italian Corner delicatessen in East Providence that was featured on the spike-haired chef's Food Network TV program, “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” on Monday, Oct. 15.
"You see him on TV and you don't know what to expect," said Dellolio. "But he's a great guy."
The episode was titled “Handcrafted,” said Dellolio, because it focused on eateries that make all of their own food. It will repeat again on the Food Network on Friday, Oct 26, at 9 pm, and Saturday, Oct. 27, at 12 noon and 4 pm, according to the deli's Facebook page.
“He loved our pasta room,” said Dellolio. “He pulled out his cell phone and started taking pictures of our tortellini machine. That’s all it does, make meat tortellini.”
Previous media exposure in the Providence Phoenix and Yankee magazine helped to connect the Italian Corner to Fieri, said Dellolio. That led to 9 hours of phone interviews with show officials, including detailed and step-by-step conversations on the making of three dishes, one of them a sandwich, that were to be featured on the show.
Three days of shooting last May was boiled down to about half of Monday’s hour-long episode.
The show only had time for the meat tortellini with Bolognese sauce and the slow-roated Italian brasato (brazed beef) sandwich – now part of the menu, said Dellolio.
Each dish is served daily and at the Saturday night sit-downs in an adjacent dining room when the deli transforms into a restaurant for one night a week only.
The deli is owned by Dellolio’s brother-in-law, Osvaldo Pirro, who tends to stay in the background. They opened the deli together in 2005 after Pirro ran a computer company for a few years after 30 years in the restaurant business.
“He wanted to get back to his roots,” said Dellolio, “but he didn’t want a restaurant. Too much time.”
The deli features authentic Italian food. No spaghetti and meatballs or chicken or veal parmesan, Dellolio said.
“That’s not real Italian food,” he said. “You won’t find that in a restaurant in Italy.”
It’s only been a couple of days since the episode aired, said Dellolio, but he’s already seen some new customers, including a friend of Guy Fieri who brought his daughter to look at a college in Rhode Island.
“I think that says something,” said Dellolio of the referral from Fieri.
There has not been an onslaught of new business yet, the deli manager said, but they are preparing for what they were told will be a 200 to 2,000 percent increase in business because of their appearance on the show.
“We’ve been given a great opportunity,” he said. “Now we need to take advantage of it.”
The deli is located at 10 Boyd Ave. on the corner with Warren Avenue. It started just up the street as a storefront only. Now it has plenty of tables and the dining room next door for the Saturday night customers.