Arnold Spantulli

Interview: Arnold Spantulli, Owner Spantulli's Waterfront Restaurant

Meet Arnold Spantulli — Owner and Head Chef Spantulli's WaterFront Restaurant

Tell us a little something about where you grew up.

I grew up in Cliffside Park in North Jersey. My parents had a beach house in Lavalette at the Jersey shore so every summer growing up was spent at the beach. I have a pretty big family and we are Italian which means food was a huge part of my life. My mom and grandmother loved to cook authentic Italian food and pretty much made everything from scratch. I loved being in the kitchen watching them make their fresh pasta, or homemade bread. Preparing meals was a daily routine but they loved it and the flavors that came out of their kitchen were amazing. I knew at a pretty young age that I wanted to be chef.

Did you go to culinary school?

Yes, I went to the New York Culinary Institute in New York City.

What did you like best about the education experience? What did you like least?

I loved learning different techniques and knife skills. I absolutely hated studying.

Which talent would you most like to have that you don't possess?

I would love to speak Italian fluently. I have a philosophy that what you can't change, you shouldn’t worry about. I can dedicate myself to cooking and everything that I'm doing or I can dedicate myself to learn Italian, I think it's better I focus on cooking.

Was there anything that you thought you wanted to do before you started cooking?

I thought I’d like to be a baseball player. Of course that didn’t last. I did play a lot of baseball pretty much through high school. Then I thought I might go into finance since I was pretty good with numbers, but in the end I followed my heart decided to be a chef.

What personal quirks does your team tease you about?

Well, first of all, It's not my team. I'm part of the team. They don't tease me too much because I'm pretty serious when it comes to work. We have a team where everyone has their own personality and each bring something unique to the table. When you're with a creative team, the end result is pretty amazing. I could not have achieved my success without the team.

Is there a food that you hate?

Since I was a little boy, I've hated green bell peppers. I like chiles, pimento, and paprika, but not those. Has there ever been an ingredient that you weren't able to master and have given up on, like blood or lamb brains? No. It's actually the opposite. It’s the simple ingredients that are difficult. If you look at a steak for example, it wouldn’t be easy to turn it into something creative.

What is your idea of happiness?

It’s pretty simple. my happy place is still the beach. These days, it’s the beach with my kids. Seeing them in the same place where I grew up is a lot of fun and it makes me happy.


Get a free bottle of Italian wine (red or white) when you dine with us. Mention you read this interview.