Located in a corner of the Town Center Mall in Boca Raton lies a restaurant where the flavors of the old country mix with the modern luxury of Boca Raton. DaVinci’s, owned by the Carvelli family, who operate not only this location but another in Marco Island, offers a comfortable and luxurious environment to match the freshest ingredients on the Italian menu with genuine hospitality practiced since their childhoods in Mesoraca, Italy.
Recently, the staff of Palm Beach Happening was able to spend a few moments with their executive chef, who gave us a glimpse into his style of cooking, life, and more.
How did you get started in the food industry? Chef Rivas started cooking at home with his mom as a kid, but didn’t actually enjoy it at the time. It wasn’t until 2004 when he came to America and started to work in a kitchen that he began to enjoy the culinary field. He was working in a different restaurant when he met the Carvelli family. He then began working for the Carvelli’s at DaVinci’s in Marco Island. After two years of training with the Carvelli’s and an even greater understanding of culinary arts, Chef Rivas began at DaVinci’s of Boca. It was then he found his true passion and calling.
What is your philosophy on cooking? Chef Rivas tries to always keep things interesting. He likes to experiment with new ingredients and techniques, but remembers to always bring it back to the basics by including fresh ingredients.
Of all the dishes on the current menu, which is your favorite? Chef Rivas has a lot of favorites, but if required to select one, would say Zuppa di Pesce. He enjoys how many flavors are incorporated into the dish, and loves seafood. Blending together his preferred protein of choice and delectable Italian seasoning, Zuppa di Pesce is Chef Rivas go-to.
Are you enjoying your time in South Florida? Yes, very much. He loves, like most, the beach and warm weather.
What is the funniest thing to happen to you in your cooking career? A few years ago Chef Rivas hired a dish washer. The employee was not a very hard worker and always wanted to leave early. Chef Rivas wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and consistently gave him second chances. However, once day, the kitchen was particularly busy, and Chef Rivas could not find this one particular dish washer. He was tipped off that the employee was sitting on the patio drinking a beer. Confused, Chef Rivas went outside to talk to him and give him one last chance. Un-phased by conversation, the employee offered Chef Rivas a beer.
You stated that DaVinci’s focuses on locally sourced product and fresh ingredients. What foods are you planning on highlighting this season? Chef Rivas tries to specifically tailor soups to the seasons and produce available. For example, butternut squash and acorn squash are in season and make delicious soups, which are found on the menu. He also like to incorporate these ingredients into dishes wherever possible.
South Florida is a hotbed for chefs who are involved in cooking contests featured on the Food Network. Do you have any interest in that? Chef Rivas loves what he does and enjoys focusing on the DaVinci’s of Boca. That being said, he is open to new experience and if an opportunity arose, he would welcome it.
DaVinci’s is open daily for lunch and dinner with the bar and outdoor patio open until close. Every recipe from classic standards to innovative preparations is created from scratch including homemade fresh pasta. Even the olives at the bar are stuffed by hand! Family, freshness and flavor combine to make a memorable experience for each guest at DaVinci’s of Boca.
We’d like to thank Chef Rivas, the staff of DaVinci’s of Boca, as well as Kara Freedman of Hemsworth Communications for helping to make this interview possible, and allowing us the opportunity to sample some of the amazing dishes served everyday at DaVinci’s.
If you’re a local chef whose cuisine matches up to the best out there, we’d love to talk to you. Contact us and perhaps you can be the next celebrity chef