History - Michael Cetrulo
I started my cooking career at 13 years old with my father on weekends where he was working. He would let me prep food and wash dishes for a small allowance. By the time I was 17 I was a line cook at an upper scale Italian restaurant in NJ. After working my way up to sous chef at one of the top restaurants in NJ called il Tulipano, I began looking for my own restaurant in 1990 at 23 years old I opened il Mondo Vecchio restaurant in Madison, NJ. We were very busy from the beginning and received awards from ZAGAT survey and New Jersey Monthly Magazine. I then started getting the urge to cook more modern Italian food so I went to train for a month at a two star Michelin rated restaurant in Imola, Italy called San Domenico, which is near Bologna. The following year I spent 3 weeks at Guiltero Marchese restaurant in L'Alberata Hotel in Erbusco - a 3 star Michelin restaurant.
When I started changing my menu from traditional Italian food to a more modern style, my customers were thinking we were going to be a French restaurant so I started looking for a second location for the new style cooking I had learned. In 1995 I opened Scalini Fedeli which was a big risk because of a $45 pre fixe and a jacket requirement in a formal setting. We have received many national publications top honors - Food Arts, Gourmet, Zagat, New York Times, Society of Restaurants & Hospitality. Even more important is the fact that Scalini Fedeli in Chatham is a 4 month wait for prime time on a Saturday reservation and 3 months for a Friday. Being a born again Christian, my wife and I prayed about moving into NYC to open another Scalini Fedeli and when we were approached by the owners of the space of the old Bouley we felt the time was now right. I still own il Mondo Vecchio. My wife is there 2 nights and in Scalini Fedeli NYC 3 nights per week. I am in Chatham, NJ 3 days and NYC 3 days each week. We recently opened Piano Due Restaurant in midtown Manhattan and Sirena Restaurant in May of 2006 in Long Branch, New Jersey.
Other restaurants I have worked or trained were Le Bernardin NYC - Antica Osteria Del Ponte, Milan, Italy - Enoteca Pinchiorri, Florence, Italy.
Chef Michael Cetrulo was only 23 years young when he opened il Mondo Vecchio, one town up in Madison, to rave reviews, and it wasn't his first venture. It's still an outstanding favorite. If you get to know Michael, you won't be at all surprised to learn that he designed his own education. He staged a little, watched a lot, took notes on everything, everywhere, and ate. A few minutes with Michael and you get the sense he's all senses. He also knew what he was looking for - his dad was a chef, Michael grew up in restaurant kitchens.
Il Mondo Vecchio has been awarded with very high ratings (ZAGAT Survey F-26; D-21; S-23 #1 Italian) (New Jersey Monthly - "Best Italian Restaurant" "Best of the Best") The Record and The Star Ledger have both rated it "Excellent"
In January 2018, il Mondo Vecchio was named the best Italian restaurant in Morris County by NJ.com and The Star-Ledger.