“If you build it, they will come.” This oft quoted line from the 1989 hit movie “Field of Dreams” perhaps reflects the journey of two good friends and businessmen. After together growing one restaurant concept, they were ready to take it to the next level with a new second location, calling it their “flagship” and in the North 32nd Street neighborhood.
The story of Nic Ferrantello and Tom Piccione, co-owners of TapHouse Kitchen, located at 3131 E. Shea, goes back 30 years. Piccione is a general contractor who has been building custom homes in Phoenix since 1982; Ferrantello a plastering subcontractor who has been at his trade in the Valley since 1978.
In 1982, Ferrantello’s father and Piccione were introduced and Ferrantello’s dad began plastering Piccone’s custom homes. The younger Ferrantello joined his father’s business in 1986, and he and Piccione have collaborated on projects ever since.
While the construction profession brought them together, an abiding respect and shared interests have kept them together.
“We’re accustomed to working with each other and, as a result, we’ve developed a close friendship,” said Ferrantello. “We have the same mind and the same likes. We both like cars, pleasing people and doing the right thing. We’re also both particular and detailed oriented; we’re a great team. Tom is like the big brother I never had.”
Consequently, like any brothers who tease each other, Ferrantello is fond of describing himself as the brains of the operation while Piccione, the quieter of the two, is the brawn.
Life is said to offer no coincidences. Ferrantello was born in Brooklyn; Piccione was born in Queens. Despite hailing from neighboring boroughs, their 14-year age difference basically thwarted any earlier meetings. Nonetheless, they love their shared New York City roots. Perhaps being born in one of the world’s preeminent food capitals predestined their success in the Phoenix restaurant market.
On St. Patrick’s Day of 2014, the original TapHouse Kitchen opened its doors in Scottsdale. The family-owned business was such a sweet success that in five short years, they opened the new Shea location. The story goes that Ferrantello and Piccione entered the restaurant business as investors in the first TapHouse Kitchen in Scottsdale.
“We quickly learned that we needed to do and be more than mere investors,” said Ferrantello. “We needed to be owner/operators. Ultimately we bought out the other entity and haven’t looked back.”
As they immersed themselves into running TapHouse Kitchen Scottsdale, two years later, Piccione broached the subject of expansion.
“For about six months,” said Ferrantello, “Piccione would always chime in: ‘There’s a piece of property available, and we should really have our second location there. It’s going to be a great location and the area needs it since there’s nothing around.’”
Ever cautious, Ferrantello kept bursting Piccione’s bubble and said they needed to wait before taking that significant step. Finally, the dialogue changed; Ferrantello was ready to see the property. Once a former restaurant, the space appeared then rundown and abandoned. And Piccione was right when he said the neighborhood could use more dining options.
The southwest corner of Shea Boulevard and North 32nd Street, not far where Piccione raised his family and continues to reside, became the second TapHouse Kitchen. It also became a personal mission to bring a great neighborhood restaurant to a great neighborhood.
“We purchased the land,” said Ferrantello, “and we acted as our own general contractors. We put a lot of sweat equity into this location and when I say sweat, I really mean it — literally and not just verbally. Everything about the architectural design as well as the interior design of the restaurant was our idea.”
The new spot boasts interior and exterior features which were built from the ground up. The custom, 7,000-foot interior is a contemporary, industrial design mixed with warm elements such as reclaimed barnwood, comfortable furnishings and an indoor/outdoor patio with a fireplace and views of Piestewa Peak.
The patio seamlessly transforms into a private dining room, accommodating up to 40 guests, possibly more, for birthday parties, receptions, even school functions.
Upholstered horseshoe booths and banquettes, as well as a beautiful, expansive bar with striking Brazilian caramel and black granite adds to the carefully selected custom touches throughout. A lively chef’s kitchen offers guests wide-open views of the culinary activity underway and is colorfully flanked by an authentic, red-tiled pizza forno.
Beer connoisseurs will gravitate to TapHouse Kitchen’s collection of 40 craft beers on tap, mostly from local breweries. By contrast, TapHouse Kitchen Scottsdale features 20 craft beers on tap, plus three bourbons and five wines on tap.
“We’ve expanded the craft beer market, which is huge,” said Ferrantello. “While the majority of our beers are local, we have some from California and Colorado.”
In addition to serving lunch, dinner and “hoppy” hour, the new TapHouse Kitchen location plans to introduce Saturday and Sunday brunch beginning March 2. (The Scottsdale location has been serving brunch for years to a loyal following.) Diners can anticipate weekend brunch favorites such as Eggs Benedict, Croque Monsieur, Pastrami Hash and Biscuits and Gravy.
Together, Ferrantello and Piccione work hands-on daily at both locations. It’s a family owned and operated small business, with Piccione’s daughter, Jamie, serving as General Manager at the new locale.
Delicious food in a fun and relaxing atmosphere remains the goal. Ferrantello and Piccione work side by side with Jamie and the kitchen crew as they strive for culinary perfection. The focus is to ensure both locations operate at the highest standard, and the mission is to deliver diners a memorable experience. That’s how a winning restaurant is built. The ‘quality first’ approach is key to TapHouse Kitchen’s prosperity.
What elevates TapHouse Kitchen is the caliber of food. Cooking with fresh ingredients on-site every day means sourcing as many products locally as possible. Among perennial favorites are the Beef Short Rib, TapHouse Signature Burger, Chicken Parmesan and “Fish Fry Everyday Baby!!”
Both locations serve what Nic refers to as Modern American Cuisine. However, Shea adds authentic pizza as well. “We have a giant traditional pizza oven at our new flagship location,” said Ferrantello. “From the get-go, we wanted the pizza oven, and our pies are divine.”
Ferrantello is of Sicilian descent, so diners are in for a delectable treat as they sample the yummiest pizza this side of the Atlantic from Sicily and Italy.
TapHouse Kitchen’s goal is to be the favorite neighborhood restaurant; a place to relax and have a good time while savoring high quality food and exploring craft beers.
Says Nic: “Tom always refers to the restaurant as an extension of his home. We sincerely want our guests to feel welcome when they walk in, and we want them to walk out with a smile on their face.”
TapHouse Kitchen Phoenix
3131 E. Shea Boulevard
TapHouse Kitchen Scottsdale
6137 N. Scottsdale Rd, #108
Photos by Timothy Fox Photography.