Business interview: Obie Ostergard of Rollati

Obadiah Ostergard is very happy since opening Rollati ristorante less than two weeks ago at 181 E. Santa Clara St.

“We’re stoked to be here,” said Ostergard, CEO of Vine Hospitality, who’s friends and customers call him Obie. “We’ve felt for a while that this side of downtown San Jose is ready for a big city restaurant.”

Noticing a gap in downtown’s dining scene, Vine Hospitality chose to go with an Italian-American concept.

“It was time to add flour and water into our culinary mix,” he said of Vine Hospitality’s first foray into Italian-American dishes. “Italian is near and dear to my heart,” he noted in reference to his Italian grandfather.

Vine Hospitality’s origins are in French cuisine with the Left Bank Brasseries – founded by Ed Levine and Chef Roland Passot, first in Larkspur (1994), and later in Menlo Park (1998) and Santana Row (2003). The company also owns Meso Modern Mediterranean, LB Steak, Camper, and Mac’n Cheese Shop.

“We believe in San Jose,” he said, “We are long players who have 20, 25 and 30 years in other locations around the bay.”

He’s also thrilled with Rollati’s location and view out its front window.

“We have City Hall right across from us, and we have 600 people above us in Miro.  Both are helpful as they continue to fill up. All of San Jose has to support us to make us viable for the long run.”

He thanks Ted McMahon of Bayview Development, owner of Miro, the twin-towered residential building, for recruiting Vine Hospitality.

“The landlord partnership is everything,” Ostergard said. “Bayview has stepped up as a true partner.”

Open to the public for just a few days, the reaction from guests has been “extremely positive,” Ostergard said.  “Everybody has been impressed by the space, hospitality, food – we’ve brought the full package to the table. Downtown has another new destination at Fourth and Santa Clara that’s not at San Pedro Square.”

Rollati’s full package of offerings includes:

  • A “big” menu with a lot of options.  “You can order a New York steak or a Caesar salad with tomatoes,” Ostergard said. “Our handmade pasta is the star. It’s made all in-house and comes in six different varieties. You can order spaghetti and meatballs, linguini and clams, or get something more.”
    He touted the “Thousand-layer” lasagna with parmesan, mozzarella and marinara, plus a version with beef short rib ragu. “Everybody gets a corner piece,” he said.
  • A cocktails program developed by the team at Meso Modern Mediterranean at Santana Row. Ostergard recommended the Limoncello Spritz with housemade limoncello, Skyy vodka, elderflower, Ieio by Bisol prosecco and soda.
  • A deep wine collection deeply rooted in Italy plus selections from multiple California regions.  The wine menu is unique to this particular Vine Hospitality restaurant, Ostergard said.
  • A large dining room that can be divided into three areas, including a dark, intimate, classic Italian space in the back for up to 12 family members or friends.
  • A viewing area into the kitchen, with “molto bene’ (Very good in Italian) imbedded on the pizza oven.
  • Coming soon:  An outdoor patio enclosed by 36-inch planters with fire pits, lighting and music fronting the restaurant off Santa Clara Street
  • Also coming: A retail section for those on the go or living above, with pasta, fresh sauces, salads and more. Ostergard hinted about a “secret menu.” And, he mentioned that residents and neighbors in need of  flour or eggs could drop in and, “We’ll get it for them.”
  • Lunch and happy hour are set to begin Monday, Oct. 2.
  • Valet parking is available on weekends.

“Rollati is a large restaurant with big-city flair,” Ostergard said. “The American-Italian concept really fits this building. I truly believe this is what downtown has needed.”

Mercury News (Linda Zavoral) coverage

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