Photo by Katherine Harris
Broders’ 2.0: Next Gen
Chef Thomas and Charlie Broder
Name a better place than Broders’ for freshly made pasta, risotto, pizza—you can’t. Broders’ Cucina Italiana (the deli) and Pasta Bar (across the street) are neighborhood gems with national shine. What’s the secret to this successful 30-year run? It’s all in the family.
Thomas, son of Molly and Tom Broder, is now executive chef, assuming the reins from 26-year-veteran chef Michael Rostance. It’s a position Thomas has trained for since age 13 when he jumped on the line. After earning a culinary degree in Bologna and staging (apprenticing in restaurants) while traveling through Italy, he returned to apply his new skills to Cucina’s kitchen, décor, and added retail selections. Over the past five years, he’s focused on the Pasta Bar, tweaking the menu to be seasonal, fresher, and upbeat, expanding the selection of antipasti and refining the kitchen’s technique. He’s reached deep into Italy’s distinct regions, sourcing from small, independent producers, and he’s foraged our region’s farmers, producers, and ranchers for the best local fare. Dishes such as a mortadella cannoli with ramp pesto, broiled zucchini blossoms stuffed with crab in golden heirloom tomato sauce, and fresh chicken liver pâté with balsamella (sweet apple balsamic) have kicked things up a notch.
Thomas is joined by his younger brother Charlie, now general manager, who is credited with growing the menu’s wines-by-the-glass selection from small vineyards across Italy. Charlie also offers Italian wine classes with a regional focus (e.g., reds from Piedmont). Danny, “the baby,” having finished his culinary degree in Bologna, is staging in Piedmont. Will he return to complete this triad? “We told him not to rush back,” Thomas says. “Living in Italy is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you don’t want to shortchange.”
A generation ago, Tom and Molly Broder brought us Italy by serving more than great food. “Broders’ is an extension of our home,” Thomas says. “We grew up cooking together, entertaining all the time, traveling through Italian cities and countryside, becoming friends with producers, farmers, and restaurateurs,” he adds. “We’ve always connected with small business owners like us, both here and in Italy. This is our life and livelihood.” Lucky for us, it’s in their blood.