Steve DiFillippo, Owner
After graduating from Boston University SMG ’82, Steve DiFillippo, owner of the Davio’s restaurants in Boston and Philadelphia, attended the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts to pursue his dream of becoming a chef. Throughout his college years, DiFillippo worked his way up the ladder at Sea Side, a popular bar and restaurant located in Boston’s Fanueil Hall. Starting out as a busboy, DiFillippo worked in all positions and assumed the executive chef position once he graduated from cooking school.
In 1985 at the young age of 24, DiFillippo purchased his own place — an existing Italian restaurant named Davio’s, which, at the time, was located at the up-and-coming end of Newbury Street in Boston’s trendy Back Bay. Having first opened their restaurant in 1977, the former Davio’s owners maintained a good reputation in a city filled with many family-owned Italian restaurants. But in the early 1980s, the tide was beginning to change and purchasing an existing restaurant presented some unique challenges. Boston was coming of age by discovering a refined appreciation for food and wine and the same-old just wasn’t going to cut it any longer.
DiFillippo kept the Davio’s name in place, but immediately revamped the menu and redesigned the interior of the two-story restaurant. He introduced a specialty menu of northern Italian dishes that were prepared to order using the freshest and finest ingredients possible — many of his first recipes were reincarnations of his mother’s original family dishes. He reserved the lower level of the restaurant for fine dining and turned the upstairs dining room into a bar and café with a more moderately priced selection of homemade pizzas and sausages, fresh pasta dishes, sandwiches, and lighter fare. Under DiFillippo’s ownership, Davio’s garnered rave reviews for being “innovative, creative and bold.”
In 1988, DiFillippo opened his second Davio’s location in Brookline, which ultimately closed when he sold the building in 1997. In 1990, the Sonnabend family, owners of the Sonesta Hotels chain and fans of Davio’s, persuaded DiFillippo to open Davio’s Cambridge at the Royal Sonesta, where Davio’s flourished for 16 years, closing in December 2005 in anticipation of Avila’s opening. In 1999 he opened Davio’s Philadelphia where he introduced his Northern Italian Steakhouse concept. While keeping the classic Davio’s specialties such as Spaghetti Bolognese, Homemade Sausages and Sautéed Chicken Livers intact, a selection of all natural Brandt beef and Niman Ranch pork was added. The new menu features the finest cuts of New York Sirloin, Filet Mignon, Ribeye Steak and double cut bone-in pork chop with a selection of preparation styles, several sauces, and accompanying side dishes.
“I’m so excited about the prospect of bringing to life a vision that I have had for several years to truly create a modern Mediterranean experience. It will continue to challenge me and the great group of people I am fortunate to have in my Davio’s family,” said DiFillippo.
DiFillippo attributes a great deal of his success to his involvement in the community and to the people he hires. In an industry that seems to be a revolving door, DiFillippo has many employees that have remained on staff since he purchased the original Davio’s back in 1985. As one of the most well known restaurateurs in the Boston area, DiFillippo is actively involved in many groups including: The Spinazzola Foundation Board of Directors and Treasurer; Co-founder of Greater Table Foundation; Massachusetts Restaurant Association Board of Directors; Rodman Ride for Kids committee member; Cambridge Culinary School Advisory Board member; and Boston University Medical Center Council member.
DiFillippo lives in Wenham, MA, with his wife Pamela and their four children.