Though Grass Valley’s beloved Simplicity Bistro has closed, co-owner Stephen Cicatelli said he will still be offering in-house cooking classes and catering.
“You can still get my food,” Cicatelli said. “I’m doing private in-home dinner parties, instructional cooking lessons and small catering events at people’s homes.”
Cicatelli said the restaurant had to close after he and his partner chose to start a family, leaving him wanting to be an involved parent, not a work-obsessed restaurant manager.
“I was working 80-85 hours a week,” Cicatelli said. “I felt guilty that I could not be around my son, and I’m not going to get those years of my child back.”
Cicatelli received his culinary degree at the Institute of Technology and worked with Peter Selaya of Nevada City restaurant New Moon.
After several months with New Moon, Cicatelli opened Simplicity in 2010, which he said was an exciting feat but challenging with the small space the restaurant’s kitchen offered.
“It’s a great place,” Cicatelli said. “It’s beautiful, but it’s a little too small, and when you make everything from scratch and you have a small space, it’s hard.”
Simplicity Bistro closed in October after changes left no choice but to forfeit the restaurant, Cicatelli said.
“When my business partner went on maternity leave, I had to take over the business side, and we couldn’t afford to pay anybody else,” he said. “So I was trying to take on way too much.”
Cicatelli said the most important aspect of the business — the food — was losing its quality in the process when he could no longer cook the food himself.
“After 14 months, my partner said, ‘You need to take some days off,’ and so I took off lunch shifts,” Cicatelli said. “I wasn’t able to focus my attention on the food, and that to me was a ‘no.’ I’m not going to compromise the integrity of my product because I’m short on time. If I’m not going to be able to make it, then it’s time to stop.”
Cicatelli said he hopes his loyal patrons accept his decision.
“We miss all of our regulars so much, and our hearts go out to them, and we apologize that they can’t go down to their spot anymore,” he said. “But I love my baby, and as selfish as that sounds, the people who know us understand.”
Simplicity Bistro visitor Kathi Delponte said she appreciated the food and will miss it.
“Their lunch and dinner menus were current, innovative and perfectly executed,” Delponte said. “I tried a number of the menu items: lemon polenta with prawns; braised short ribs; and even had a veal dish — and I never eat veal — just because I knew how good it would be. Everything was made in house, including desserts. They made a salted caramel ice cream to go off your diet for. And during many visits, I either overheard or conversed with other diners about how excellent the food was.”
Cicatelli said he has received positive feedback from the in-house cooking opportunities, which is easier to manage than a full-blown restaurant.
“I’ve done it since we’ve closed, and it’s great,” Cicatelli said. “I can plan that way, and with the restaurant, I didn’t know if we were going to make $1,000 or (one) dollar.”
To set up an event, Cicatelli can be contacted at (530) 205-0065.
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4230.