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Chef Spotlight
Vincent DeMarinis/Head Chef, Little DeMarinis

Photos by Erich Schroeder

 June 2014

As the grandson of Vincent "Jimmy" DeMarinis, the son of Josephine DeMarinis and nephew of Rosemary DeMarinis ó the original cooks at Mama DeMarinis ó Vincent DeMarinis grew up around great Italian food. His family lived upstairs from the legendary Bay View pizzaria, and at 12 years old he started in the family business washing dishes.

So when his sister Veronica Cieslak, her husband, Joey, and their business partner Kurt Klitzke decided to reinvent the family business as Little DeMarinis (the original DeMarinis closed in 2012), DeMarinis was more than ready to be the head chef. The new restaurant opened in the George Washington Bay View Post 180 on the corner of Kinnickinnic Avenue and Fulton Street in February, and has been serving up DeMarinis signature Italian to loads of grateful patrons.

Tell me about some of your favorite culinary memories.

"My grandpa would call me into his room to watch the Packers game or the Brewers game, and Iíd go for a few minutes, but then Iíd go back to the living room where my grandma and mom were watching Julia Child. Iíd tell him, ĎNo, Iím way more interested in what Juliaís doing. Iíve got to see what sheís doing to this bird.í I also remember being 5 or 6 years old, going downstairs when my grandfather was making the dough. I was thinking that I was helping him, but really I was getting in his way. I also watched my grandmother, my mom and my aunt cooking, and I would get in their way in the kitchen all the time. Iíve always loved cooking."

What did they teach you?

"The main one to me ó and Iíve always found it funny ó is to never write down recipes. They were always closely guarded family secrets. The other is to love what youíre doing. If you donít love what youíre doing, youíre not going to do it well. Iíve done many things, but Iíve always come back to the restaurant business."

Whatís it like to work at Little DeMarinis?

"The only thing I can really say is itís amazing. I get to perpetuate my grandfatherís legacy. Itís been crazy busy. We are only now starting to ease into a normal business (pattern). I have friends who still havenít come in yet because theyíre waiting for everything to settle down. Pizza is our No. 1 seller, but we also do a lot of chicken parmigiana, and we do a pretty good fish fry business on Fridays. Itís nice to see the old faces (of customers). When we were down for that year and a half, I really missed our customers."

What do you like to cook, and what do you like to cook at home?

"I enjoy some of our pasta dishes. In our fettuccini alfredo, our alfredo sauce is made to order. In fact, everything is made in-house, except for our burger patties and our bread we get from Canfora Bakery. At home, itís kind of crazy when I cook because one of my children decided to be a vegetarian when she was 5, and now sheís 13 years old, so I have to make two meals. If I make chili, I have to separate out part of it before I add the meat, and if I make breaded pork chops, Iíll get a portabello mushroom and throw one of those in with the pork chops. I just like to cook. Thereís nothing I donít enjoy making."

Whatís your favorite tool in the kitchen?

A couple of years back my wife got me the first edition of Julia Childís "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," volumes 1 and 2. Theyíre my favorite things I have culinary."

Little DeMarinis
2860 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
(414) 763-5272


This story ran in the June 2014 issue of: