After four years of owning The Turn House, a farm-to-table from-scratch restaurant in Columbia, owner Thomas Zippelli says, hewanted to expand and honor his Italian roots.
“I’m Italian. And I grew up with Italian food, and I’m very excited about it,” said Zippelli, who has dual Italian and American citizenship. His family is from southern and northern Italy. He has been to the country more than half a dozen times in his life.
“I’m very excited about cooking Italian food outside of my house,” he said.
His affinity for Italy boils down to a few of factors.
“It’s the food. And the wine is not far behind. It’s a bit of a vibe when you go [visit] too. It’s very romantic,” he said.
“It’s one of the cuisines that’s so popular in America,” he said. “I think it often gets presented on a surface level. But I think a lot of these really awesome cooking traditions get pushed to the side. Having this wood-burning oven is a game changer. It will be the heart and soul of the kitchen."
Zippelli is excited about debuting a sourdough pizza dough. He also wants to tap into his family’s heritage and cook dishes from southern Italy like eggplant and dairy-based meals during the summer.
He said he decided to expand this year because he hired executive chef Ben Lambert this summer for The Turn House.
“Now he is running with it,” Zippelli said. “It’s running pretty smoothly at The Turn House. It was time to expand for the sake of an entrepreneurial adventure. The food truck is fun.”
Lambert, 41, brings 22 years of restaurant experience — 15 as an executive chef — to Howard County.
“I’m just seasoned,” said the Savage Mill resident, who has had stints cooking in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
It remains to be seen who will be the head chef of the new restaurant. Zippelli said he’s considering running the kitchen himself. Lambert might also train a new chef and run the kitchen himself.
“I’m sure I’ll lend some knowledge,” said Lambert. “We haven’t figured that out yet. I have a lot of experience making pizza and pasta."
Constructing a new look
Zippelli described the new restaurant as a “massive construction project” of the historic Olney House. It housed the iconic Ricciuti’s Kitchen for more than two decades.
“They are reframing the entire thing from the inside,” he said.