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Cafe Pignoli chef earns People’s Choice Award at March of Dimes event

By Staff | Oct 6, 2010

Chef Robert Cardoos of Cafe Pignoli, a gourmet delicatessen and bistro at Cape Harbour, won the People’s Choice Award for a dish he made for a March of Dimes event last month.
The event, held Sept. 18, attracted 500 guests and raised approximately $80,000. The celebrity chef auction provided 16 top restaurants of the area with the opportunity to bring forth two of their best entrees, deserts or appetizer dishes.
Cardoos presented his ravioli diablo dish, which is spinach mozzarella ravioli with fire roasted red pepper creme sauce. The dish will be served at the restaurant for the next couple of weeks.
“It is a phenomenal dish,” he said.
Cardoos said the restaurants that participated in the event were “all great restaurants and their food was phenomenal, so we were really honored to take home the top prize.”
He said it meant a lot because it was the one prize that was voted by the attendees.
“The event was phenomenal,” Cardoos said, adding that they plan on attending again next year.
The People’s Choice Award was added to 40 previous titles Cardoos has received over the years in the New England area and Florida.
Cafe Pignoli opened at Cape Harbour Marina five years ago, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. He said all of the food is made in the store and from scratch.
“We have great outdoor seating,” he said. “We have one of the best waterfront views of any restaurant in the Cape.
When Cardoos started in the food business many years ago, he began with a chain of 20 gourmet stores in the Boston area. He said by the mid-80s they changed their stores with the times and began offering more prepared meals in the catering industry. His catering business branched out into the wedding industry and in the 1990s he had a special on the food network.
“We came down to Florida to make it a little easier,” he said, laughing.
Janet Rinehart, an executive chef from Ohio, joined the Cafe Pignoli staff a little over five weeks ago.
Cardoos said her pastries and entrees are absolutely out of this world.
“She is an incredible pastry chef,” he said.
Each night during the week the restaurant offers a different theme, along with a special menu. On Sunday it offers a brunch, which consists of a 40-foot-long assortment including an omelet station, Belgium waffle station, entree station, pastries, desserts, fruit and beverages.
Cardoos said his favorite part of being a chef is meeting people and being creative.
“We are a company for the local community all year around,” he said. “We are here for the community because it is our bread and butter.”
He said he offers a very personalized store because he wants people to come in and enjoy themselves.
“It is a family type place,” Cardoos said.
For Thanksgiving, Cardoos said he will be offering a free dinner for the needy.
“We hope to serve over 600 people that day,” he said, adding that “a lot of people are out of work or financially strapped or they are alone and they don’t have anyone to share Thanksgiving dinner with.”
The Thanksgiving dinner, which he said is still in the works, will be given at the Cape Harbor Pavilion for the public.
“It’s the most rewarding and enjoyable day of the year for me,” Cardoos said.
Cafe Pignoli is at 5785 Cape Harbor Drive. It is open form 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday and Monday, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
For information, call 239-541-0800 or visit www.CafePignoli.com.