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Joe’s on the Jazz

Article Published: Apr. 5, 2012 | Modified: Apr. 5, 2012
Joe’s on the Jazz

Joe Cafaro has a seat at Joe’s Jazzed Up, his new Italian fine dining restaurant opening next door to his popular deli-style café, Joe’s Italian Kitchen.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Joe’s jazzed up.

It’s not just a statement – it’s a name.

Joe Cafaro is swinging into fine dining with Joe’s Jazzed Up, a new restaurant right next door to his popular deli-style café, Joe’s Italian Kitchen.

Set to open Monday, April 9, Joe’s Jazzed Up is just that – Cafaro’s fresh, homemade food from handed-down family recipes, but jazzed up.

“We’re talking different dishes than what you’d get at the café, wait staff, glasses – everything done on a fine dining scale,” said Cafaro, who opened Joe’s Italian Kitchen 10 years ago. “There are so many people excited about Joe’s Jazzed Up. It’s a different place to eat, a new dining experience for people who come to Joe’s.”

What makes it so new?

“It’s a very intimate place,” he said, “a place for romantic dinners, business meetings – how great is that?”

As for Joe’s Italian Kitchen, devoted customers needn’t worry. The deli’s remaining open as is, with Joe’s Jazzed Up operating as an entirely separate restaurant.

“We’re adding a lot of different things to the menu on the Joe’s Jazzed Up side,” he said, mentioning dishes like calamari fritti, bruschetta, antipasti di famiglia and more. “And we put saltimbocca on the menu – I don’t know anywhere else in town you can find saltimbocca.”

He’s referring to a veal dish typically served with prosciutto and herbs, rolled up and marinated, but with his own family twist. “Most of the dishes we do in my family for dinner time,” he said.

Other dinner specials include spinach ravioli, pasta tomato primavera, linguini pescatore, boiled flank steak and a variety of parmigiana, piccata and marsala dishes.

Lunch brings to the table some fresh new salads, like capriccio – mozzarella, tomato, basil and extra virgin olive oil – and gourmet sandwiches, like prosciutto and fresh mozzarella.
And when Cafaro mentions new dishes, he means it – literally.

“We’ll actually have dishes now,” he said, referring to the café’s baskets and disposable plates.

“When we first opened, it wasn’t supposed to be a restaurant – it was a deli. People would ask, ‘Where am I supposed to eat this?’ I’d say, ‘You’re not, you’re supposed to take it home.’ Well, that didn’t last very long, and now we have 44 seats.”

It still wasn’t quite enough. Customers wanted more, as did Cafaro and company.

“We’ve been in business for 10 years, and we’ve been doing the same thing,” he said. “We’ve had a good amount of success, but we wanted to do something different. So, that’s why we came up with the idea of having something a little more quaint and quiet.”

But not too quiet. Joe’s Jazzed Up is also meant to be taken literally, as the restaurant will regularly feature live music. You can guess what type.

“I’m a huge jazz fan, man,” Cafaro said. “I grew up with Sinatra and all … but right after that era, I went straight to jazz. I always have a jazz station on in my car or in my house.”

Now he’ll have it performed live in his restaurant, courtesy of Appalachian State University theater students and area piano man Blake Pace, among others.

Homemade food plus good music? “It’s like a coin – you’ve got heads and tails, but you flip this coin and you don’t lose,” Cafaro said.

Joe’s Jazzed Up opens Monday, April 9. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to close Monday through Saturday. For more information, call (828) 263-9206 or visit Joe’s Jazzed Up and Joe’s Italian Kitchen are located at 190 Boone Heights Drive in Boone.

“This is my dream,” Cafaro said. “We’re finally getting to do it – and right where we started.”

Beat It

Got restaurant news? Email editor Frank Ruggiero at ( or call (828) 264-6397.

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