By: R. Caligaris
Trevor Morris focuses on simple, quality ingredients and traditional preparation methods. This simplicity and Trevor’s great care for his craft are what set Trevioli Italian Kitchen apart from other Italian restaurants in Columbus.
Trevioli’s location in Blackmon Road makes it a popular neighborhood hangout. The contented crowd remains at the bar as happy hour blends into dinner time. They may stay for a while and perhaps order a portobello ravioli to share, or ask for a table and settle in for a full meal. There seems to be no hurry to move on from this warm, mellow spot.
This month we sat down with Chef Trevor Morris to talk all things pasta. We found out where Trevioli got its start, what it’s like to be an Italian restaurant owner, and which are the most popular pasta dishes you can find at Trevioli.
Can you tell us how Trevioli got its start? Trevioli started in a storage unit off of Veterans Parkway in 2013. For the first 6 to 9 months we were a pasta shop. Which means getting approved by the Department of Agriculture. We started our own business because we were tired of working and supporting the corporate life. We wanted to create a business that appreciated their employees and helped make Columbus a better place to live.
How did Trevioli get its name? Trevioli is a combination of Trevor and ravioli. I thought it was dumb at first, but my brother who is an online marketing guru, said google it, and nothing came up. "You’ll be the only trevioli on the internet" he said. So we went with it.
Tell us about how you got started in the restaurant industry? I started in the restaurant business 20 years ago, in a corporate restaurant outside of Chicago, called Max & Ermas. I didn’t realize then, but you have to be a special type of person to survive in the restaurant world. I have tried to get out several times, but it’s like this is what I’m supposed to do. I’m not good at anything else .
What are your most popular pasta dishes and why do you think they’re so highly regarded? Tortellini and portobello ravioli will likely always remain on the menu. We slow roast mushrooms, use the best ricotta and Parmesan, and roll the pasta out and hand make them. The gnocchi is seasonal, and we always try to pair with something local. The chicken Alfredo and spaghetti I know I can’t take off the menu without getting in trouble.
What’s the single most important thing about pasta cookery? The single most important thing about when cooking pasta is salt. Salt your pasta water like the ocean. When it’s time to pull it from the water, reserve some for sauce, dump the pasta and oil it hot, spread it out to cool. Don’t put oil in your water, don’t dump it into ice water, and if you do rinse it, get it out of the water quickly. Trust me.
What attracted you to open your new location in North Columbus? When my business partner, Sanjay, said I have a building for the new location, he took me over there and we walked in. It was a roof with dirt floors. I said, “ Cool, what’s it going to look like?” He said “ Here's a piece of paper, draw the new Trevioli and give it to the contractors.” It was one of the most amazing moments of my life.
Italian cuisine is still so popular in Columbus and around the country. Do you think diners’ attitudes and expectations have changed over the years? There are tons of articles written about the changes in the restaurant business. From the style of food to the complimentary service. Look at the farm to table initiative. While it’s a great idea in theory, 100% farm to table is just not possible. There aren’t any salt farms around here. So if you plan on having any seasoning added to your dinner, it will come from somewhere else. That doesn’t mean don’t try. As 2018 was a complete blur in retrospect, somehow my wife and I acquired 3 acres in Harris County. I’m no farmer, but you bet I’m gonna try. Also, expectations have changed. Try to survive in the restaurant business with no social media platform, no website, without some sort of delivery service, vegan options, gluten free, free WiFi, space for pets, eco-friendly straw options, and sustainable farming and fishing is just not possible.
What are you most proud of as a business owner of Trevioli Italian Kitchen? For me, it is not the food. It’s not the great reviews. It’s the community service that we have put forth over the years. We have opened up and donated to the less fortunate, collected shoes, donated to your kids baseball, dance, football teams. Mark Jones day. Discounts for administrators and their assistants, the military, the police.
We work with the second chance networks and give jobs to people who have felonies and can’t get jobs elsewhere. We teach students what this industry is about.
My favorite ones are the ones that aren’t broadcasted. The ones where someone calls and says, hey, we have a small church can you donate something? And we feed 50 people on a Sunday and after that Sunday it’s forgotten and not talked about because that one was between Trevioli and God. While we can’t donate to everyone, we certainly do try. Trevioli in some ways is a 501c3 disguised as a restaurant