Ceraldi (Backstories) Issue 918

In which we are reminded that, to a great extent, it’s our backstories that make us special.

We enjoyed Labor Day weekend on Cape Cod. To celebrate our brother-in-law’s 81st birthday, we drove to the restaurant, Ceraldi, just off Mayo Beach at the harbor in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

If you search, “Ceraldi Wellfleet,” you might find this terse description – “Modern kitchen offering a rotating 7-course menu of upscale Italian fare, plus water views” – which does Ceraldi no justice.

The space is rustic and intimate… 40 seats. Tables are covered with heavy black paper. White pencils are provided for doodling. One of us immediately drew a balloon and “Happy Birthday”; another started competitive tic-tac-toe.

Dinner began when chef and owner Michael Ceraldi stepped from the kitchen. “Hello, everyone, and welcome to our dinner,” he said. “I’m Michael, and I’ll be cooking for you tonight.”

He and his team prepare a fixed price, seven-course meal that changes every day depending on what he finds in the markets that morning and what his local growers provide.

Ceraldi began his introduction with a brief recap of his day’s shopping – where he went, what he found, and why he chose it – followed by a description of the first course, a Lucky Lips Loagy Bay oyster topped with a few bits of pickled tomatillo from Out There Organics. This would be followed by corn soup made from Hillside Farms corn with bits of Wampanoag Shell quahog, Out There Organics scallion, and Surry Farm Espelette. And on through the third and fourth courses to the real taste poppers on the menu, course five (rigatoni with Nestwood Farm eggplant and pepper jam, Lilac Farm organic pork sausage, and Parmigiano-Reggiano) and course six (halibut with Surrey Farm butternut butter, Out There Organics purple potato, and Allen Farm parsley).  Brilliant!!! Michael Ceraldi is a wizard.

During dinner, for those enjoying the wine pairings, servers brought a filled glass before each course, explaining the grapes, the growers, and the qualities of the wine that led to the pairings. And, as they delivered each course to the table, they repeated Michael’s descriptions – the food, who provided it, and its notable characteristics.

As we drove home, I asked, “How was this different than other, comparably priced restaurants?”

“The meal, and every course, had a story,” came a sleepy voice from the back seat of the car.

Yes. The food was brilliant. The backstories made it special.

Nick Miller assists banks and credit unions to sell services to business clients through better sales strategies and execution. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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