TENAFLY, N.J. — What began as a dream became reality when co-owner John Nikci opened the doors to his ninth restaurant, Baci Ristorante in Tenafly.
“I came to dinner with friends here and fell in love with the place,” he said. “I said 'I am going to own this place one day.' And a year later exactly, I bought it.”
The Italian-Mediterranean restaurant opened its doors in June and has received a warm welcome from the community.
“What I found in Tenafly and the surrounding areas are the customers are actually very versatile in food and educated in food,” Nikci said. “They really, really know how to appreciate and how to criticize food. So it’s always a challenge for me and I love it.”
Nikci has been immersed in food since he was a child in Albania.
“I’ve been cooking since I was a little kid with my mom,” Nikci said. “All moms are great cooks, but mine was the greatest. We had eight siblings, so someone had to help mom.”
Nikci turned his love for food into a profession. He began working at his sister’s restaurant when he was 14.
At 18, he moved to the U.S. and took a job in the Bronx as a dishwasher. His manager: Joe Pesci.
Nikci eventually made his way up the food chain working as a bus boy, waiter, chef, all the way to owner.
He opened his first restaurant, Baci, 20 years ago in New York. Nikci now has a new Baci in Tenafly.
“Our chef has worked in four different restaurants and not only graduated the Culinary Institute of America but earned a scholarship to go to Italy to study the culinary arts,” he said. “He comes with lots of training experience from the Italian and Mediterranean region.”
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