Joel Anthony Caruso
Long Beach, CA
If there’s one thing that has been made clear to Joel, it’s that
there is never a time to stop learning, and always a time to start teaching
those willing to learn. With over 15 years of restaurant experience under his
belt, Joel has effectively intertwined his understanding of alcohol, guest
services and relationship building into a unique and relatable form of hospitality
It was at Fox Restaurant Concepts' Olive & Ivy in Scottsdale
where Joel discovered his passionate appreciation for liquid education. He
spent the first 3 years of O&I’s infancy assisting sommeliers Kyle Erickson
and Jake Daniken with tastings, training and cellar management in its Wine
Spectator award-winning wine program.
Aspiring to further his knowledge of wine, Joel looked west to
reconnect with his roots in California. He was offered a position at Terranea
Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, in its chandelier restaurant, Mar’Sel. It was there he made the decision to
take up bartending as a way to round out his knowledge of service and libations
as a whole.
Shortly after, Joel was scouted to assist the opening of True Food
Kitchen in Newport Beach as a bartender. After the first year of its opening, Joel
was then asked to open Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s partnership with Nancy
Silverton in Newport Beach, Pizzeria Mozza. With an opportunity to learn
alongside two of Orange County’s most talented bartenders, Jaren Singh and Sten
Green, and one of Los Angeles’ most revered sommeliers, Taylor Parsons, he was
able to greatly expand his knowledge of cocktails, wine, and spirits,
particularly in the Italian sphere.
Joel has consistently dedicated himself to an overall roundedness
as a lover of wine, beer, spirits, and hospitality. Currently a student of the
WSET level 4 Diploma program, as well as preparing for the Advanced level 3 Sommelier
Exam, there is a distinct and contagious magnetism around his commitment to
assimilating all he can in the world of beverage, for the sake of sharing what
he has learned.
Joel has been the Beverage Director at Pizzeria Ortica in Costa
Mesa since March of 2013, taking the wine and bar program to new heights with
the aide and mentorship of GM, Jason Scarborough. Introducing Madeira to twist
classic cocktails and partnering with the chefs in joint effort to create
unforgettable cocktails. In addition, he has worked diligently to create one Southern
California's largest collection of amari, lauding Pizzeria Ortica as being
leaders at the epicenter of the cocktail renaissance in Orange County. As a team
they achieved the restaurant’s first Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, as
well as numerous accolades for the bar program, including Joel being named
Orange County’s Best Bartender in 2015 by OC Weekly.
By cultivating relationships with winemakers across Italy and
California, Joel has been able to highlight regional Italian gems and
California-grown Italian varieties not easily found from producers such as Sean
Thackrey, Steve Matthaiasson and Dan Petroski, further enhancing the charm and
integrity of the "Cal-Italian" themed restaurant.
As a side project, Joel also runs a private out-door bar situated
in a shipping container, on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice Beach called Open
Container. He was contracted to curate and man a high-end, seasonally themed
bar to service Hollywood’s
elite, creating a buzz for one of the most elusive and sought after
invitations the west side of Los Angeles has encountered.