Interview

Deliciously Drive-Thru

Gourmet Italian cuisine without leaving your car at Gemelli Bistro

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If you have time, you can find a table at Gemelli Bistro and enjoy a sit-down Italian meal. If you’re pressed, you can walk up to the counter, pick up some sandwiches, and head back to work. But Gemelli offers a third option: You can drive up and place your order, then pick it up at a window. Instead of burgers and fries, you can grab gnocchi and wedding soup without leaving your car. We talked to owner Nicole Manfredo about her radical new Charlestown cocina.

How did Gemelli Bistro get started?
I came to a crossroads in my life when my marriage ended shortly after my twin girls were born. The divorce wiped me out financially and I was at ground zero. An old proverb kept resonating in my mind: find something you love to do and make a living from it and you will never work a day in your life. I remembered how much I loved just being in the moment when I’m preparing a meal and appreciating the smell of the fresh herbs like garlic and basil, a simmering pot of fresh sauce, and a chicken roasting in the oven. How could I continue this tradition as a single mother? The answer to all of these questions was Gemelli Bistro. My twin girls are truly my inspiration, hence the name Gemelli, meaning twins in Italian.

What gave you the idea for a drive-thru?
As I conducted my market research, I learned that many sandwich shops in the Midwest have added drive-thru to their buildings and increased their profits significantly. Our concept is to provide gourmet food fast. My own experience and conversations with other single parents revealed that there is definitely a need for a quality healthy meals to take home without having to get kids in and out of
car seats.

You’ve featured a number of specials since opening: Pumpkin Ravioli, Escarole and Bean Soup, and so on. How much do you get to innovate in the kitchen?

We have a multitude of family recipes that we have lined up to introduce as specials as we grow. We have added items like Pigs in a Blanket, using sweet Italian sausage wrapped and baked in a blanket of fresh dough with a side of marinara for dipping; Spinach Pies that burst with the flavor of fresh garlic and black olives; and Single Serving Lasagna layered deep with both ground beef and Italian sausage. We have some veal dishes and seafood dishes coming soon.

What makes an Italian meal “authentic”?
Authentic Italian to me means preparing meals the way my ancestors who were native to Italy prepared them. After my grandmother’s family came to America, she nurtured seven children and survived the Great Depression because she was inherently innovative and would make a meal from the scarcest ingredients and season them to taste. Inscribed on the wall above our menu [is] “Amici Benvenuti,” meaning “Friends Welcome.” Our customers have become our friends and we plan to continue to provide them with only the best.

Gemelli Bistro
2 Falcone Lane, Charlestown
364-2300