Pascal's Celebrates One-Year Anniversary
Dec 09, 2018 12:00AM
● By Brian Saucedo
By Tom Worgo Photography by Stephen Buchanan
For the Pascals, it’s all about family. That’s why Robert Pascal got into the restaurant business in the first place. Starting in 2008, Pascal learned the business from the ground up.
He worked in the hotel and restaurant at St. Michael’s Harbor Inn, Marina & Spa, which his grandfather Robert, a former Anne Arundel County executive, owned. Robert took over as owner in 2010.
But years later, the younger Robert wanted to return to his hometown of Severna Park and expand his business enterprise from Trappe with the help of his Executive Chef Michael Quattrucci, a graduate of Johnson and Wales' College of Culinary Arts in Rhode Island.
So, he and his wife Carolyn opened Pascal’s Chophouse in north Severna Park in the Magothy Gateway shopping center in December of 2017.
“David is emotionally attached to being from Severna Park,” Caroline says. “We are now in the home where he grew up. We are literally a mile and a half away from the Chophouse.”
The Pascals are focused on being a “neighborhood restaurant,” one which features a wine list that is 80 percent organic or biodynamic. “If you live in this area, you don’t necessarily want
to get in the car and drive to Eastport or Baltimore,” Caroline says.
Pascal’s Chophouse, which seats 120 people and has an outdoor patio, offers the same high-quality menu selection as the other steak houses further away. But the restaurant strives to set a different tone. “I like to have fine-dining food, but not the white table cloths or the stuffy environment,” says Caroline, who is graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. “I think we have a little more of a departure from the atmosphere of a traditional steak house or a fine-dining restaurant. We have a laid-back vibe.”
Quattrucci, who commutes from Trappe almost daily, agrees. We recently sat down with the 44-year-old Quattrucci to talk to him about Pascal’s Chophouse, his career, and the way he likes to cook.
How would you describe your menu?
We are not just a steak house. We hit the healthy angle as well the organic stuff. Some things are gluten free. That’s a pretty big thing these days. We accommodate vegetarian. We do a lot of global stuff: Mediterranean, Asian, South American, and Latin. We are eclectic. We get to flex our muscles in a lot of different ways, and we do a lot of things well.
What are your favorite ingredients?
Butter, bacon. All the good stuff. I really enjoy keeping it simple. I don’t like to use big crazy words that people don’t know. We like to keep it approachable for the guests.
How long did it take before the restaurant really got established?
I have been part of these things before and there’s always a natural progression to it. People find out about you organically sometimes, and sometimes they read a little blurb about you. There’s always those growing pains when you open a new place. You always have liabilities on the staff side and it’s difficult to get all your ducks in a row, so to speak. It took four or five months for us to catch our stride. When you get it all to come together, it’s a nice feeling.
Do you source your product locally?
As much as we can. I am not a big box truck kind of guy. We try to avoid that when we can. I try to gravitate where the product is the best at the time. If I had to pick one, it would be (Catonsville’s) J.W. Treuth. All of our dry-age beef is through them. It’s absolutely phenomenal. We also use United Shellfish on Kent Island.
How did you become an executive chef? What other places have you worked?
I got my first shot almost 20 years ago, and I really have grown from there. I worked at some real nice places in Rhode Island. Then I was recruited down here to rebuild the Tidewater Inn, which was down on its luck in Easton. I spent a few years there. After that, I went to the Talbot Country Club. I spent seven years there. Then I had my little girl and we decided to do some traveling. My family and I went to the Virgin Islands. Then I went up to my home state of Maine and I worked a couple years on the coast. But my wife is from here and hates the cold. So we moved back here.
If you could change anything about your job, what would it be?
It’s long, long hours. A lot of that has to do with dependability and getting the right staff and help. It doesn’t usually fall in line right out of the chute. It takes time. I work anywhere from 70 to 90 hours. I have a little girl I’d like to see more.
You are executive chef of the Pascal Group. What does that involve?
The Pascal Group also owns the St. Michaels Harbor Inn. We just reopened Harbor Lights restaurant at the hotel. It was a restaurant maybe 10, 11 years ago. When Robert and I discussed the big empty space upstairs, it was kind of a no-brainer to put a restaurant up there. I have a staff there that’s doing a fantastic job. I spend a little bit of time at the hotel every week. I am not in the trenches as much as I would like to be because I am here most of the time.
How would you describe the Prince Edward Island mussels appetizer? Is there anything someone should know before making it in terms of technique or ingredients?
It’s a year-round dish. It’s a fun, sit-and-pick-at-it type of dish. You have the bread to dip in the juice. I have had nothing but compliments on it, so I am thinking it’s pretty good. You can buy
all the things right at the grocery store. It’s very easy to make.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND MUSSELS
This appetizer is steamed with andouille sausage, San Marzano tomatoes, three onions, garlic, and white wine. Super easy to prepare for even the beginner level chefs. Prep time is 10 to 20 minutes and cooking time is 10 minutes.
1 Pound Black mussels (washed and debearded)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 to 3 ounces of Three onions (mix of julienne leeks, red and Spanish onions equal parts: The leftover is great sautéed as a side dish for a steak.)
4 ounces Andouille sausage sliced into rounds
2 to 3 ounces San Marzano plum tomatoes. (crush them by hand so the chunks stay nice)
1/2 cup of white wine
1 cup clam juice
Italian parsley-chopped for garnish (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 tsp olive oil
Preparation: Use a large enough pan that has a lid and will hold all these ingredients including liquid. Put on med high heat add olive oil. Add sausage and onions first and stir for a little color. Render a little 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic 10 to 20 seconds (Do not burn the garlic). Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add mussels and tomatoes and cook for 30 seconds. Add wine. Cook for 10 seconds to let the alcohol cook off. Add clam juice, salt and pepper. Stir and cover. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until all the mussels are fully open. Serve in a large bowl finish with parsley garnish. Serve with grilled crostini for dipping