Husband, Wife Restaurateurs Keep Focus On Quality

Husband, Wife Restaurateurs Keep Focus On Quality

OCEAN CITY – Fresco’s introduced a new style of Italian fine dining to Ocean City over 14 years ago and plans are in the works to open a second location in West Ocean City to serve a more casual and rustic Italian cuisine.

Giovanni “Pino” Tomasello moved from Italy to Ocean City in 1978 to live with his uncle during the summer and worked at Tony’s Pizza on the Boardwalk.

“I fell in love with Ocean City. It is a beautiful place,” Tomasello said of his decision to remain in Ocean City.

He met his wife, Karen, in 1983 in Ocean City, as well as opened his first restaurant, Pino’s Pizza, that year. At that time, he was working at a restaurant on 33rd Street where he started in 1980, and took over the location in 1986 as an Italian family-style restaurant calling it Giovanni’s, which was open until 2000.

“I was at a very young age to open a restaurant, but I enjoyed what I was doing, and over the years I got to work with some of the greatest chefs,” Tomasello said.

In 2000, Tomasello left 33rd Street and he and his wife opened Fresco’s on 82nd Street and the bay.

“This was a big challenge in my life because it was totally different; a bigger place and turning it into fine dining,” he said, “My goal was to create something unique … by creating a totally different clientele and bring something different by offering a wide variety because my menu isn’t basic Italian. We have many other dishes we wanted to incorporate that represented the area, such as crab cakes, salmon, and rockfish, but with an Italian touch.”

Located on the bay with a breathtaking view, Fresco’s serves fine Italian and American seafood, steaks and pasta in an intimate atmosphere with exceptional service.

Tomasello returns home to Italy every year to visit family and bring traditional Italian recipes back to Ocean City to serve at Fresco’s.

“A lot of my skill comes from my mother,” he said. “She is an incredible cook, not just because she is my mother, but because she has a gift.”

Tomasello is involved with practically aspect when it comes to running Fresco’s from ordering and purchasing to cutting the fish and meat to cooking and serving.

“I want to make sure the customer gets the best I can do, and I want to serve something that I would eat. It is an old-fashioned mentality,” he said.

Tomasello couldn’t do it without his wife, Karen, who runs the front of the house operations coordinating parties and overseeing all of the related operations.

“She has a lot more patience than I do,” he said.

The menu at Fresco’s offers a wide variety of Italian and American cuisine. A meal can range from Carpaccio that is thinly sliced tenderloin garnished with capers, chopped onions and shaved parmigiano cheese as an appetizer to a Crab Louie, jumbo lump crab meat on a bed of lettuce topped with a delectable Louis sauce, as a salad to Lobster Fradiavlo that is a tender cold water lobster tail in a spicy marinara sauce served over pappardelle pasta as an entrée.

The entrée selection ranges from Linguine Crab & Shrimp Ettore to Broiled Crab Cakes. An extensive wine list is also available to choose from to complement each meal.

Besides the standard menu, Tomasello takes pride in serving several different specials a day from pasta to a fresh catch and a different cut of meat.

“I don’t purchase food on a discount. I purchase the best food I can serve … I take a lot pride in purchasing local produce. I always try to purchase from the close vicinity so I know where it comes from,” he said. “Every day there is always new specials, and on top of it I always try to please the customers with their different requests.”

Tomasello ensures if a friend is to walk into Fresco’s kitchen he or she will be able to eat off of the floor at any time. He believes maintaining the restaurant in excellent condition is vital during operations.

“Ocean City is a small town but in the summer it is a big town from the amount of people that we get, so we always have to be prepared, and that is why I devote a lot of my time here,” he said. “I do it not because it’s my work but I do it because I enjoy it. When I stop enjoying it, that is when I have to quit working.”

During the off-season months, Fresco’s hosts Pino’s Vino, a five-course meal with wine pairings held monthly.

“The wine club has been very successful because repeating customers bring new people, and it has become something they look forward to,” Tomasello said. “We use wines from different regions or countries, with each course being paired with a different wine.”

Pino’s Vino Club maxes out at 35 guests. To sign up, visit Fresco’s website at or call 410-524-8202. The next Pino’s Vino Club, “Grapes in the Kitchen”, is March 11at 6 p.m.

Jive, the martini bar attached to Fresco’s, that serves lite fare with live entertainment, will be open on weekends starting St. Patrick’s Day Weekend and open full-time in late April.

“We have an incredible sunset, and Jive is unique with its great lite fare and martini drinks, and the great hosts Rodney Clark and Patty Joran,” Tomasello said.

Tomasello announced in 2015 he plans to open a West Ocean City location.

“It will be something different, a rustic traditional style of Italian. It will be totally different but something amazing. West Ocean City is where I want to incorporate things I have been collecting for years…you wait and see,” he said.