Nick Pellegrino, creator of the pop-up restaurant phenomenon, Mangia Nashville, brings a level of culinary richness and excitement that is new to Nashville’s dining landscape. Mangia Nashville’s unique concept quickly garnered the Nashville Scene’s 2011 Writer’s Choice Award for “Best Weekly Food Event” and Pellegrino was dubbed the “Godfather of Pop Ups” in Tennessee. He is a regular guest on WSMV Nashville’s “More At Midday,” as well as the “What’s 4 Dinner” segment during the morning news broadcast. He has been featured on Cooking Channel, CMT, WNPT, WKRN and FOX Nashville, among others. Nick is presently working on a television project of his own and his first cookbook.
A long time music veteran with a degree in classical guitar, Pellegrino had the idea for Mangia Nashville at a New Year’s Eve party. The inspiration came from his New York City childhood and a desire to relive the boisterous Italian family dinners he grew up with. “My greatest memories as a kid were of my entire family crowded around the table sharing an incredible meal, while telling stories, singing and joking with each other. My grandmother’s tiny apartment was instantly transformed into the best Italian restaurant on earth.”
Pellegrino’s love of food and entertaining was born at that table, which he has now recreated to share with others as if they were guests at his own home. Mangia, Italian for “eat,” is a fixed price, menu fixed, multi-course dining extravaganza that takes place at the Cool Café in Franklin, Tennessee. The chameleon-like eatery transforms itself into a reservation only, white tablecloth, family style feast every Friday and Saturday evening. Pellegrino, the emcee of fun, sings, dances and interacts with guests throughout the three-hour food odyssey.
Pellegrino honed his kitchen skills as co-owner of a successful catering company in his hometown of Staten Island, New York with his close friend, a Culinary Institute of America graduate. He continued to cook professionally to subsidize his early years as a songwriter in Nashville and worked for several upscale caterers including TomKats Catering. As a caterer, he learned to build interesting menus and plan intimate to large-scale events, all while cultivating a one-on-one relationship with his customers.
Italian food icon, Lidia Bastianich, teamed up with Pellegrino for a 2012 fundraising event held at Mangia Nashville. Bastianich praised Pellegrino saying, “Nick, I think you have an extraordinary concept. You’re the chef, producer, dancer… You’re multitalented at multitasking. Everything that I love is right here – music, dancing, good food, family and friends.”
Nick Pellegrino is changing the way people perceive the whole restaurant experience. “I want Mangia Nashville to be a joyful place where you leave your problems at the door, enjoy a great meal, meet new people and celebrate life… It’s the ultimate social network.” Pellegrino’s immersive dining experience has helped make Mangia Nashville a destination restaurant for foodies from all over America. “The desire and passion I have for bringing people together and entertaining them is at the core of everything I do.”