The Work We Do: Ettore Pennacchia, Touch of Venice

My name is Ettore Pennacchia. I started here at this location about eight years ago in Cutchogue. I’m owner and chef, and sometimes dishwasher — you got to do a little bit of everything when you have your own business.

I got into the restaurant business about 30 years ago for two reasons: number one, out of stupidity, and two, I thought it might be fun and games, something interesting, something new.

My whole family, we ate Italian food seven days a week. Some were very good cooks … some just wanted to get by. They weren’t very good cooks. My father and his side of the family, they enjoyed their food. They enjoyed cooking it, finding new things on the market, so that brought me into the game also.

Prior to this, I was at Strong’s Water Club & Marina in Mattituck. I was there for like 20 years. I was basically a cook because I was the only one. Then, my son Brian joined me over there, and then my daughter came in as being a hostess and we all got together and have been working since.

After being in business for over 25 or 30 years, it’s probably the last seven or eight years I’ve realized that a restaurant isn’t about food, or not all about food. It’s more about hospitality. Too many places, they say, “If you cook good, you got it.” No. Cooking is a very small part of it.

Food is almost secondary. It’s about people coming in, wanting to come in, hanging out with a drink, having a dessert, meeting a friend, talking with them. Food, they’re going to love. The staff has to be semi-knowledgeable, but I don’t believe you have to know everything. You need to know something about wines, because we have a collection, but you don’t have to know about all the wines — just come to me if you have a question. We’re very family- and friend-oriented. Hospitality is the key thing we try to enforce at the restaurant, because that’s year round.

The main thing is you need to have a good crew, and we do. We’ve been working together for years and years, so you get to know everyone’s idiosyncrasies.

“The Work We Do” is a Suffolk Times multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork. It is made possible by Peconic Landing. Read it first and see more photos every Monday on Instagram @thesuffolktimes.

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