Petriello returned to his hometown of South Plainfield late last year from New York. For two years, he had worked in Benno (now closed) and Rezdôra. In January, Petriello joined il Nido’s team in Marlboro as a line cook; in April, he was promoted to sous-chef.
In June, Jordan landed his first executive chef position at il Nido, where he set out to replace chef Joseph Voller, who left after building il Nido into a premier restaurant.
“As you work through the ranks over the years, everything prepares you for this moment,” says Petriello.
Growing up, Petriello enjoyed Italian dinners every Sunday with his family. His love for Italian cuisine, which he describes as “all in simplicity”, continues.
“Every chef wants to show off their creativity,” says Petriello. “I appreciate being able to do this now.”
What brought you to work at il Nido?
Jordan Petriello: It was in the New Jersey Monthly Top 30, and I was working in New York. For most of my career, I cooked Italian dishes. I was looking for a good Italian restaurant to work at because I wanted to move back to New Jersey.
Do you see a big difference between diners in New York and New Jersey?
New York diners are a little happier with the menu. I feel like in my time in New Jersey diners are a bit more replacing certain things on the menu. New York dinners can be a bit more ambitious, but I always try to squeeze my ambitious ideas into the menu here.
What was it like going from sous chef to executive chef at il Nido?
It was a great learning experience. The old chefs were very talented. As a sous, I was introduced to many of our vendors. I learned a lot in terms of techniques and how to be creative. I would sum it up like this: all eyes are on me now!
Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?
I give the majority of the credit to my brother, who went to the Culinary Institute of America. He was interning at the Trump National Golf Club, and that’s where I got my first job. I didn’t go to culinary school or anything. I worked my way. I started at the age of 18 as a prep and washing dishes. Over time, I started working at the cold station, and stayed there for five years when I left as sous chef.
Do you feel like you learned as much from the experience as you would have learned in school?
I feel like I’ve absorbed a lot more. You won’t absorb much in a classroom compared to when you’re thrown straight into the fire.
What changes have you made to il Nido?
I slowly changed things to become more simplified, with very minimal ingredients. I use modern techniques, but I also stay true to Italian cuisine, which I believe is all about simplicity. I also focus on seasonal ingredients.
Do you have a favorite dish on the menu?
I would probably say our mushroom lasagna. We have a lovely egg pasta with sautéed oyster mushrooms, topped with fontina cheese that we get from northern Italy. It’s perfect for the colder months ahead. By October, our fall menu will be in full effect.
What do you hope to bring to il Nido?
I have a very talented team and we remain consistent with what we are doing at this stage. I just want to continue in this direction. Over time, we hope to be noticed by many more people.
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