By: Khalil Idris
In 2012, Franco Porporino was nominated by Pinstripe Magazine as one of the top five guys to know. I understand why; he's a busy man. As mentioned in US Weekly magazine, Franco is a philanthropist, mentor, producer, actor and restaurateur. Franco is also the manager of Emmy Award winner and four-time Golden Globe nominee Armand Assante.
Mr. Porporino is an ambassador of adolescent males at the Integrity House in Newark, NJ. He also supports many charities along with the Anti-Bullying Car Show Rally (where you can find Church Street lined with exotic cars such as Lamborghinis and Ferraris). Fresco, owned by Mr. Porporino, has become a go-to destination in Montclair, NJ. Let’s learn more about the man behind the brand.
What is your name?
My name is Franco Porporino, Jr. born in Wayne, New Jersey to first generation Italian immigrants from Cosenza, Italy.
When did the concept come about for Fresco?
The desire came after years of hosting at the exclusive Cipriani Soho Private Club NYC, Beau Marchais NYC among many others. In 2013, I wanted to bring the feel of NYC nightlife and food combined to Montclair's chic and boutique lined Church Street.
Did you have a background in the food business?
Early in my life at the age of 18, I was trained by award winning chef Michael LaTour whose résumé consists of the Four Seasons Hotel Restaurant 57/57, Ritz Carlton and has won countless awards. At the age of 23 I decided to leave the hospitality world and venture off to Wall Street where I've been for the last 15 years.
What is your favorite dish at Fresco and why?
The famous “Martorano Eggplant stack”. I named and honored it after my dear friend Steve Martorano who owns Cafe Martorano in Fort Lauderdale, FL. It's our best seller and customers rave about it.
Why should everyone visit your restaurant?
Fresco is not your ordinary Italian restaurant; it's more like a mini LAVO in NJ. You have the same NYC feel such as dim LED lighting, great food, great music and a celebrity hot spot which brings you the ultimate dining experience. Our outdoor patio is one of the best in Essex County during the warmer months.
We always like to end with this question, what in life brings you joy?
I think from traveling the world and having the privilege of dining at the finest of restaurants allowed me to really understand what people want in the hospitality world. Hosting at Cipriani especially opened my eyes to this world. There’s no better feeling than to walk into Fresco and see people enjoying their meal and dancing in their seats. To me that's an honor and what dining should be all about; great food, great conversation and dancing all in one setting, Fresco. My patrons are what brings me joy.
Follow Mr. Porporino on -
Facebook: Franco PJ