Chef Calisi comes from a distinguished restaurant career in New York City where he worked as a sous-chef for critically-acclaimed restaurateurs including Charlie Palmer at Aureole, Rocco DiSpirito at Union Pacific and under Executive Chef Scott Bryan at the three-star restaurant Veritas.
Chef Salvatore Calisi is not only trained with the very best in his field, and at the finest restaurants in New York, but also has a Michelin star to tuck in his toque.
Chef Calisi recently received one the highest honors while Executive Chef and Partner at Dio Deka Restaurant, when they were awarded a Michelin star. The Michelin Guide stated, “Chef Salvatore Calisi has fun with the menu, lending it some Mediterranean touches and infusing it with contemporary sensibility that utilizes both local California products as well as global accents.”
Chef Calisi has an extensive formal culinary education, complemented by years of experience in the kitchen both in the United States and abroad, beginning as a boy at Yolanda’s, his father’s restaurant in New York. He spent his summers in high school and college working in restaurants on the luxurious resort islands of Elba and Sardinia and went on to graduate from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.
Prior to moving to California, Calisi spent five years honing his Executive Chef toque with well-heeled restaurateurs Peter Michaels and Paolo Veronese, most recently at Valbella in New York’s gentrified meat-packing district, which opened to rave reviews in the fall of 2005.
Previously he opened Osteria Stella in New York to critical acclaim, helping to build
a menu of diverse and complementary Italian dishes, many influenced by his tenure at both Osteria al Doge and Osteria Laguna. Prior to such, Chef Calisi worked as the sous-chef for critically-acclaimed restaurateurs including Charlie Palmer at Aureole, Rocco DiSpirito at Union Pacific and under Executive Chef Scott Bryan at the three-star restaurant Veritas. The talented and affable chef learned the most outside of school, working in the kitchen and paying close attention to everything diners ate—and everything they did not. “At Veritas, the kitchen was really small, and my sous-chef station was right next to the dishwasher,” he explains. “I’d watch every plate that came in, and if something was left on the plate, I’d examine it to find out why,” he says. Even if it was something as small as a scallion or a clove of garlic, Chef Calisi would take it off the plate, feel its texture to determine if it was over or under-cooked, and figure out how it could have been better prepared. “I have to get it exactly right,” he says.
That perfectionist trait was put to the test at Union Pacific, where almost daily famous chefs would stop in to dine at the restaurant. Charlie Palmer, David Bouley and Alain Ducasse frequented the restaurant and Chef Calisi would watch with bated breath from the kitchen (often leaving the door open slightly) to determine how they liked each dish. “One day David Bouley was sucking on the bone of a lamb chop I’d prepared,” he said. “It made my day!”
Chef Calisi has two children, A.J. and Presley, and resides in Morgan Hill.