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518 West Italian Cafe
518 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC 27603
Having come from an area of the US that has been ensconced in Italian heritage I feel I have slight, intrinsic understanding of such. Combine that with my multiple viewings of “The Godfather” and “The Sopranos” and I can safely declare that when pondering Italian culture two things come to mind… La Cosa Nostra and pasta (HA!) generally translated… family and food. Oddly enough, minus the mafia references and stereo-types, 518 West Italian Cafe (@518 twitter) reflects with vigor, both of these concepts. Started roughly a decade ago by the Chapel Hill Restaurant Group, 518 specializes in Italian and Mediterranean flavors, included in their offerings of seasonal home-made pastas, wood fired pizzas and fresh seafood and steaks. Headed by Blaine Nierman, Executive Chef and General Manager, 518 provides multiple options for classically hearty Italian meals but also designs weekly specials around fresh, local ingredients purchased at local farmer’s markets. (see 518 blog for news and updates…here). Mild in manner, Nierman, with little respect for other overpriced and pretentious establishments, provides robustly flavored meals in a comfortable setting easily affordable to family and friends and business associates alike.
But more than just the food factors into this equation. 518 West also seems to stress the importance of family so reflected in Italian heritage. The foundation on which the Chapel Hill Restaurant Group’s establishments are built is one of “community” and “building relationships with employees” to aid their business in growth, as noted in a past bizjournals article. Mickey Ewell, founded the group by opening up opportunities to employees that showed interest and potential, eventually partnering with them to expand the business. Likewise, Blaine Nierman, not only warrants respect from his employees through his calm demeanor but also takes the time to blog about the importance of his relationships with regards to those he employs. Family and the recognition of a “building community” are a cornerstone for 518 West and that combined with the importance of delicious food should leave any member of your personal mafia content.