A bright atmosphere greets you as you walk into Filho's Cucina in Groton. Everything from the antipasto to the paintings on the walls is cheerful and welcoming. The owner, Ozzie Filho, is just as friendly. Though Filho originally comes from Brazil, it is his Italian heritage that contributes itself to his food. Filho worked as an executive chef for a family style restaurant until he realized that he wanted something of his own. Originally, Filho only bought a small piece of what is now the full restaurant. However, he eventually approached the owner of the rest of the plot and was able to buy the space.
For starters, one can have soup, bread or "insalate" (mixed salad). The salads use the freshest vegetables and the breads are loaded with assorted herbs and your choice of cheese. Next come the paninis -- stuffed with meats, cheeses and tomatoes -- which are covered in different dressings, peppers and mixed greens and topped off with a drizzle of olive oil. Then comes the pasta and pasta "ripiene" (stuffed). Ranging from gnocchi to gemelli, each has its own unique accompaniment of vegetables, cheeses and meats. The pasta ripiene are mostly filled with a variety of seafood, however, there are also vegetarian options. Among the pasta ripiene is Ravioli di Aragosta; one of the most popular dishes at Filho's. The ravioli is packed with a mix of crab and lobster meat and covered in a creamy sherry sauce. Finally comes the "piatti" (dish), which includes medallions of meat or seafood sautéed with an array of different vegetables and sauces. There is a small liquor store attached to the restaurant and Filho encourages his customers to take advantage of his B.Y.O.B permit.
For such richly flavored meals, the price is surprisingly modest. The soup and insalate range from $6 to $10. The paninis are all $10, except for the Buffala, Tomato and Pesto which is $9 without the grilled chicken. Pasta dishes average about $11; the least expensive of which is the Pasta di Paolo ($9), and the most expensive is the Gemeli con Pollo ($14). The pasta ripiene average about $12, ranging from $10 to $17. Lastly, the Piatti ranges from $14 to $17.
Filho contributes part of his success to the fact that he worked at two of his father's pizzerias as a kid. This helped him to kick start his cooking career at a very young age. Filho has also been able to use his skills to help others.
"Recently a friend of mine's daughter got married and after the wedding, the reception was invited back to the house for some food," he says. "However, my friend's wife was struggling to make food for the arriving reception. I asked her if she needed any help and she said yes, so I started cooking with whatever food I could find and within half an hour we had made enough food for everybody."
To Filho, cooking is not only about making something delicious but also about continuing to broaden one's knowledge -- which can make all the difference.
Filho's Cucina is open Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m., and Sunday, 4-8 p.m. Filho's is located at 235 Main St., Groton. For information, visit filhoscucina.com or call 978-448-5664.