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Tutto Bene helps new owners fulfill dream of owning restaurant

BEMIDJI — After being closed for nearly a month and acquiring new owners, Tutto Bene reopened on Tuesday, receiving great interest from the Bemidji community.

“Everything is new,” Co-owner Justin Frederick said. “We are still an Italian restaurant and we kept the same name but it has a new coat of paint, new carpet, new tables and chairs and everything is made from scratch.”

Frederick joined Jerusa Ricke, a Bagley native, saw that the restaurant was for sale and decided it would be a good way to accomplish the dream of owning a restaurant. 

Both chefs were working in Minneapolis prior to coming to Bemidji on Aug. 1. Frederick, who has 15 years of cooking experience and 10 years of running a kitchen, was chef at Le Meridien Chambers. Ricke was a chef at Masa, a Mexican restaurant.

Ricke got her culinary arts degree from the Arts Institute of America. Frederick got his from the Minneapolis Community and Technical College and his bachelor’s degree in small business administration from Metropolitan State University.  

Along with their culinary skills, the co-owners brought six employees that moved north to help run the restaurant.

“We kind of took the leap of faith because we knew the food was great and we wanted to help in our own way,” employee Matt Peterson said.

The kitchen uses a mixture of local, national and international ingredients with the Italian meats and cheeses being imported from Italy, lobsters being imported from Maine and produce coming from local farmers like the Kerr Family in Clearbrook.

Frederick said all the food on the menu is all made from scratch including the pastas and house-made sausages.

Frederick and Ricke may be new restaurant owners but they have not stepped away from the stove.

“We figure if we have worked this hard we might as well keep doing it,” Ricke said.

As for recommended dishes, Frederick said that the tortellini has been popular so far. He also recommends the sautéed calamari.

  The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The restaurant is also open on the weekends serving brunch with Saturday hours of 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.