ROSWELL, Ga. – Dominick’s Italian restaurants have grown to be five now, the latest in Roswell, but they all have the same recipe for success.
Roswell’s Dominick’s is at 408 South Atlanta Street in the Clock Tower shopping center. Owner-chef Khoi Phan may seem an unlikely choice for running a restaurant specializing in Italian cuisine – he is the son of Vietnamese immigrants – but he has spent his whole life in the kitchen.
Now he has opened a second Dominick’s of his own in Roswell.
“Cooking is something I just always did. My parents came to this country with no money and barely any English. I was one of three kids, and Mom took me to work with her in the kitchen. Why me? We didn’t ask questions, we did what our parents said,” Phan said.
So he was up at 5 a.m. helping his mother. Then his parents acquired a restaurant when the family settled in North Carolina, and it was logical he stayed in the kitchen before school and after preparing Asian food.
“Even after I went off to college, I was only about 30 minutes away, so I was able to come home on weekends,” he said.
He realized cooking was what he liked to do. After college, he began a career in cooking and before long was sous chef at the Blockade Runner conference center-resort’s restaurant in North Carolina.
He later trained under Chef Thomas McKeown, now the executive chef at Grand Hyatt in Buckhead.
“That is when I learned my meats and sauces – how to turn a dish from being good to awesome,” Phan said.
It is also where he learned as a chef that quality is everything.
“In most restaurants, food costs are 30 percent to 35 percent,” he said. “For us, it was 60 percent. It’s all about having a complete and whole experience for the customer.”
David and Linda Pollack have been to the Roswell Dominick’s three times already. They knew Phan from his Norcross Dominick’s, where he is still a partner.
They were at the Roswell location to celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary.
“We like it here very much,” said David Pollack. “I loved the scallops with angel hair pasta.”
That’s the Scallops due Socci, pan seared sea scallops sautéed with cappicola ham, roasted red bell peppers, red onions, garlic and spinach in a white wine seafood sauce. It’s served tossed in angel hair pasta.
“It’s just delicious,” he said.
Linda Pollack’s choice was the chicken marsala. And both raved about Dominick’s signature garlic bread and “soup” (marinara sauce).
“We like it also because of the soft atmosphere. You don’t have music blaring so you can hear yourself talk,” David Pollack said. “And the service is wonderful.”
Phan said he was fortunate to work for some of the best chefs in Atlanta as he was coming up.
“It gave me the opportunity to open up and experiment,” he said.
One of those mentors was Chef Chris McDonald at the Fish Market where Phan was sous chef. Then, he opened the Fish Market at Perimeter.
“He saw I had some talent and said I should come down there,” Phan said.
Cherry Midtown was another stop along the way.
“That was Asian fusion with some flair of American and South American,” he said. “We did a great dinner business and then at 10 p.m., it turned into a club. It was a happening place at that time.”
With a change of ownership and concept, Phan decided it was time to look around. He discovered the Dominick’s here in the OTP (outside the perimeter).
He started as a partner at the Norcross location and is sole owner of the Roswell Dominick’s.
“The secret of our success at Dominick’s is simple. It’s the recipes. They’ve been handed down from the Old Country and we don’t change a thing,” Phan said. “They are all tried and true. Nothing is homogenized here.”
It also comes from special attention to the ingredients, ensuring they are fresh and of top quality. Everything is done in-house from the salad dressing, sauces, bread and even the meatballs, he said. Only the pasta is not – it’s imported from Italy.
Dominick's is located at 408 South Atlanta St., Roswell. They can be found online at www.dominicksitalian.com.