By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
After opening restaurants in Chicago, Richard Raschillo moved to the Valley to relax. Instead, the industry called him back.
“I got anxiety from not working and it was either go to Lexapro or open another restaurant,” Raschillo says with a laugh about the antidepressant.
Raschillo signed a lease at 14891 N. Northsight Boulevard, Suite 135, Scottsdale, and that allowed him to relax.
“I slept like a baby that night,” he says. “Before then, I was pacing outside at night. My brain was circling too much.”
The result is Culinary Gangster, a brick-and-mortar version of his popular food truck in Chicago. The name comes from his Italian heritage.
“I own a fine dining, James Beard restaurant in Chicago,” he says. “I’ve had other concepts my whole life. Five years ago, my chefs and I were goofing around. I bought a truck and turned it into a food truck.
“It became an enormous success.”
Raschillo bought the concept here, but to a 1,600-square-foot brick-and-mortar space between At Home and Kohl’s off the Loop 101. With the hopes to open three more, the eatery serves healthy fare like burgers, sandwiches, quinoa bowls, wraps, salads and breakfast — a blend of items from each of his restaurants in Chicago.
He calls the Southwest wrap ($13) one of his signature dishes, complete with grilled barbecue chicken breast, iceberg lettuce, black beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, scallions, Monterey Jack cheese, tortilla strips and topped with Gangster ranch dressing.
On the not-so-healthy side, he says, fan favorites are the spicy Gangster burger and street gyros. The Kronos street gyros ($13) come with tomatoes, red onions and tzatziki sauce.
For the same price, guests can get the spicy Gangster burger featuring a prime beef patty, jalapeños, pickles, fried onions, aged white cheddar, sweet chili sauce and habanero sauce all on a brioche bun.
Healthy dishes are important to Raschillo. He is a former trainer who saw his clients getting results from working out, but they didn’t know how to eat right.
“I went to culinary school to learn that,” he says. “I’ve had 25 concepts over the last 25 years. People flip houses; that’s what I used to do with restaurant. I’d develop a concept, build it, staff it and sell it.
“This concept is close to me because it’s a mix of everything. I’ve made all the mistake possible. I’m not shocked anymore. Twenty-five years later, I finally have the right tools.”