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Tecla Owner & Chef: Joe Belardi

By Jackson Kelly

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Joe Belardi, the owner of Tecla Rustic Bistro and Bar, and as you’re about to find out the man is incredibly impressive. Where to begin? As a young man, Joe was incredibly eager to garner experience in the kitchen. Joe was classically trained at a prominent culinary institute in Pittsburgh from a young age and got his real world experience under an incredibly demanding chef that made sure he was cultivated correctly. Joe doesn’t believe in cutting corners when it comes to food, however his cooking style takes advantage of the natural flavors of the items he’s cooking with. Everything he uses is fresh and he makes sure to utilize any scraps to make stock so he’s not wasteful at all. For example, Joe buys fresh San Marzano tomatoes locally, and takes advantage of his handmade pastas to fully authenticate your Italian eatery experience. He also doesn’t want people getting used to the food he serves, which is why he makes the effort to change the menu every several months. Although incredibly passionate about making his food, Joe admits that his favorite part about now owning his own place is the time he gets to spend with his family. His children are able to witness and learn from their father in the natural restaurant setting. Family is key, especially to Joe and his restaurant. After all the name Tecla was taken from both his young daughter and grandmother. In fact, the walls of Tecla are all lined with fantastic portraits of his families memories and journey to the United States. When it comes to his staff, Joe is incredibly compassionate. Making an effort everyday to teach all of his employees, especially if they’re doing something the wrong way. Joe believes that his staff can be capable of incredible things which is why he doesn’t hold them back. Always encouraging, he is pretty much turning cooks into chefs, there’s a lot of room for ambition at Tecla. The ultimate goal is to sculpt incredibly thoughtful food as art pieces. Joe wants everyone in his kitchen to have his work ethic “act like every dish has your name written on it." He values the good and bad experiences of owning a restaurant and looks to turn poison into medicine. Joe’s ultimate goal is to build a community and eventually branch out into more restaurants in different areas around 716. I can’t wait to watch this man’s greatness as it unfolds into the city of Buffalo.

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