Executive Chef, Owner
Elisa's Ristorante Café
Executive Chef, Owner
Elisa's Ristorante Café
Chef Paolo Telese, a graduate of the Culinary Arts Institute, developed his “hands on” understanding, appreciation and expertise in the preparation and presentation of fine foods during his studies in: Rome, Italy; Paris, France; and Gastaad, Switzerland.
To describe Chef Paolo in one word – it would be “innovative.” His passion is food, and his creativity brings his menu beyond the imaginable.
Chef Paolo has been recognized professionally by his peers numerous times, including being selected as the Long Island Food Critics’ Chef of the Year. His artistry and ingenuity have been the heart and soul of Elisa’s Ristorante Café for over twenty years and has been recognized with Elisa’s receiving the Restaurant of the Year Award
But most important to Chef Paolo is the reaction he receives from the guests at his restaurant, and not just spoken reactions, but the joy he sees when they dine there and come back again and again. They delight in having their senses excited as they experience the sights, aroma and taste one normally only experience in Italy. The restaurant’s motto is “A taste of Italy close to home”, but that does not do true justice to the Chef’s many talents which go far beyond his preparation of Italian delicacies and extends too many other cultural dishes. Whether he is preparing his version of an Italian classic or putting his Italian flair on a typical American dish, or visa, the outcome is truly unique and always delectable.
The menu offered At Elisa's ranges from traditional, old-world Italian cuisine to uniquely, imaginative plates exclusive to Elisa's. Chef Paolo is truly a food fanatics! His commitment to the restaurant and food industry and creating unique creations is unwavering and rewarding, to him and to those who dine at Elisa’s.
Chef Paolo is always creating new dishes to satisfy his creative side. He is constantly fine-tuning different exotic dishes in his quest for the perfect dish and also to elevate the dining experience for his guests. He takes great pride in daring to combine top-quality ingredients, sometimes seemingly unlikely, to produce a variety of tastes that complement each other. Some of his creative dishes are:
Baked gluten-free blueberry veal meatballs – 80% ground veal with 20% beef, fresh blueberries, crumbled Gorgonzola, a hint of garlic and fresh herbs, topped with caramelized onions and drizzled with a port wine reduction;
Zodiac delights – a blend of homemade vanilla ice cream with a dash of liqueur and fresh fruit or nuts to accentuate the chosen flavor. Twelve different “delights” – one for each sign of the zodiac;
Fried Calamari– tender fried calamari with a plump red tomato sauce, seasoned with garlic, fresh herbs and fresh lemon. Who doesn’t like fried calamari? Elisa’s customers rave over this dish calling it the best they have EVER had! Elisa’s menu has calamari 9 different ways;
Specialty butters, including the much loved Jalapeno butter – a blend of creamy butter and roasted jalapenos with a smooth consistency, are always part of the table setting to start your dining experience, along with perfectly warmed and toasted Italian bread; and
Chef Paolo’s Lava Oil – Soy oil made infused with homegrown peppers (superhot, cayenne, and a hint of habaneras) – a 2 year process. For Elisa’s customers who enjoy a little spiciness! The oil is presented in “lava lamps” placed on every table daring diners to dip their bread, add to their pasta dishes – or any dish - to give them an extra “bite”.
Each night, in addition to Elisa’s extensive menu and specialty nights, Chef Paolo creates and presents a number of specials to completely satisfy their patrons. Monday night is “Shrimp Night”, Tuesday night is Pasta Night, Wednesday night is “Chicken Night” and on each of these nights the menu is enhanced with more than twenty shrimp, pasta or chicken specialties created by Chef Paolo. Thursday Night is “Wine Night.”
Chef Paolo also creates unique and distinctive menus for special occasions celebrated at Elisa’s over the course of the year:
“Mardi Gras” is a celebration at Elisa’s that combines all of the Specialty Nights rolled into one. And of course, the Mardi Gras would not be complete without Chef Paolo’s Louisiana style specials including Andouille Mussels, Smoked Gator Ribs, Creole Fettuccini, Jambalaya, Alligator Stew, Cajun Catfish, and Crawfish Bowl, just to name a few.
Exotic week – Seasonal and exotic fruit, fish, meat and vegetable dishes are added to their specials. Some examples from last year's event: Camel Bites, Pan Seared Wolf Fish, Sautéed Romanesca , Chilled Horned Melon Soup and Dragon Fruit Salad.
OssoBuco Week – In addition to the usual pork, veal and lamb OssoBuco dishes, Chef Paolo adds a few other unconventional choices, such as a Chicken, Wild Boar, and Venison, Bison OssoBuco for the adventurous at heart. All so a twist on fish Monk Fish OssoBuco
Aviary Week – No chicken on this menu – Chef Paolo invites his guests to step out of the box with birds of a slightly different feather – duck, pheasant, ostrich and ostrich eggs, goose, and quail – all prepared with the same creativity and artistry that he is known for.
Pasta Week – In addition to the more than twenty pasta specialties that Chef Paolo prepares for Pasta Night, during this special week he introduces authentic pasta dishes from every region of Italy.
No holiday goes without a menu dedicated to the day and its traditions. For example, special menus for St. Joseph’s Day and Easter Sunday encompass traditional Italian favorites and not-so-traditional Italian dishes that Chef Paolo brings to North Bellmore from his parent’s hometown in Italy. Dishes include his secret recipes for goat, lamb and rabbit - traditional authentic dishes that only Grandma and Chef Paolo can make to perfection.
The Chef also hosts “Wine and Food Pairings” numerous times a year. These have grown in popularity and sell out very quickly. During these special events, diners readily observe how the Chef’s love of food and knowledge of wine go hand in hand to create a 7 course meal with ever so natural complementary essences. The dishes are uniquely and impeccably chosen to complement and accent the wine. The Chef takes the time to personally explain to his guests the thought process behind the creation of the specialty dishes and how and why they match certain wines perfectly.
Chef Paolo is a huge proponent of the importance of community and therefore he gives back to all of our local schools and service organizations, whether it is by attending different school events, donating food, or sponsoring events. Throughout the year, Elisa’s honors many of the local service providers with what they call “Salutes.” They salute many groups including Correctional Officers, Police Officers, Nurses, Firefighters, and Veterans by offering them 20% off of their total bill during specific weeks of the year as a thank you for all they do for our community.
Chef Paolo, along with his restaurant, Elisa’s Ristorante Café, is also a member of many local organizations and very involved in all community events. They are committed to serving their community and have a big generous heart when it comes to having a positive impact on the community and surrounding communities. Some of the organizations they belong to are: Boy Scouts of Merrick – Theodore Roosevelt Council Pack #206; East Meadow Chamber of Commerce; Bellmore Chamber of Commerce; Merrick Chamber of Commerce; The Sons of Italy, Knights of Columbus Delaney Lodge; and more. Elisa’s also sponsors drives to raise funds for various charities, including cancer foundations and disaster relief funds.