Post by Donna Belt
For months now, the windows on the front corner space at 510 Glenwood – once occupied by Red Room (then Krave and then Myst) – have been covered with paper. Then several weeks ago, a sign with no words – just a row of cherry bombs appeared. What IS this? neighborhood residents have asked. A club? A video game hang out?
Vincent Barresi, the new restauranteur in this property would chuckle at this intrigue. You might recognize him as the chef and proprietor, who for the past ten years has warmly greeted families at Vincent’s Italian Cuisine on Creedmoor Rd. Or if you’ve been in Raleigh a really long time, you might recall his restaurant that thrived for fifteen years prior to that on Capital Blvd.
So what has inspired him to blast into Glenwood South? It turns out that his story of reinvention matches the theme of many downtown residents, whether they’re downsizing empty nesters or 20 somethings seeking to create lives that feel connected, creative and vital. With his sons Kevin and Dominic both leaving home and his lease running out in North Raleigh, Vincent asked himself what came next. He felt proud of the traditional Italian comfort food that he had perfected and tweaked through the years, including dishes like braciole that few Italian chefs still take the time to prepare. But this time in his life called for a new challenge, an original approach, and a fresh… well, BOOM!
Enter Vincent’s long time friend Christopher Bender, the chef who started Wicked Smile in the Warehouse District, which later became Five Star. Vincent describes Chris as his creative partner, and it’s he – responding to Vincent’s vision for doing something unique, bold and fresh in an urban setting – who delivered the name Big Boom. It was only later that Vincent realized that Chris was also referring to the huge-hearted bang of Vincent’s enthusiastic personality. “I get so excited, I’m like a kid,” he admits. “Chris pushes me in the art and decorating, and I push him in the kitchen.” Together, they are creating a setting where the food, the art and the atmosphere capture the essence of downtown life. It’s part tradition, part fun, lots of edge. And it’s happily in flux.
Vincent explains that the menu and the art will continue to evolve. He wants this restaurant to be a place where there are layers of interest and each time you come in, you notice something new. Alec Barrows, a local metal artist (whose studio is called Mettle) was the perfect artist to create grid works of metal framing throughout the space that cast latticed shadows and complement the splashy, colorful graffiti art of Victor Knight III (@dartsky). The energy and vibrancy of their collaboration echo that of Chris and Vincent, speaking of what happens when creative people come together and allow themselves to be led by what is possible.
For now, Vincent is hoping it will be possible to unleash this new and innovative dining experience within the next few weeks. Definitely, he says, he’ll be ready to welcome families by Mother’s Day. Somehow, with the food, the art and Vincent’s big personality, it looks like every visit there will feel like a celebration.