Jonathan Welch, General Manager and Owner of Osteria Vespa, began his journey as the owner of a restaurant in the Bay Area of Northern California in 1993. During the next thirteen years, his restaurant opened up two more locations. In 2006, ready for a quieter lifestyle, he sold his restaurants and moved back to New England where he and his wife, Heather, bought M&M Green Valley Produce in South Deerfield, MA (a farm stand that sells locally grown produce, meat and dairy). In January 2013, he took time off from the farm stand and took the position of General Manager for the Farm Table Restaurant, located in Bernardston, MA where he met Thomas Schnapp.
Thomas Schnapp, Vespa’s Executive Chef, has been in the restaurant business for 35 years. His culinary accomplishments have been enjoyed, not only at The Farm Table , but at the Blue Heron in Sunderland, MA and at The Restaurant at Burdick Chocolate in Walpole, NH.
The professional relationship that formed between Jonathan and Thom started them on a new path to Vespa. Jonathan’s experience in the restaurant business, his connections with the local farmers in the Pioneer Valley and Thom’s talents for creating food sensations, made the idea of their going into business together a logical conclusion.
Although the Italian definition for vespa translates to wasp in English, the popular Vespa scooter has made the word synonymous with the Italian lifestyle. Italian cuisine is noted for its abundance of different tastes characterized by its’ simplicity. An osteria in Italy was originally a place serving wine and simple food. More recently, the emphasis has shifted to the food; the menus tend to be short focusing on local specialties such as pasta, grilled meat or fish, and often served at shared tables.
Vespa’s menu is inspired by the history and culture of northern Italy, primarily Tuscany, and the Mediterranean. Pasta is made daily. Sauces are made from scratch with the highest quality ingredients. Most meats are sourced locally when possible: Pork from Vermont, New Hampshire and the Hudson River Valley, cage-free chickens from Pennsylvania, quail and rabbit from Vermont, lamb and beef from Vermont and New Hampshire. The butchering of large cuts of meat, including veal, pork and lamb, are done in our kitchen. All seafood and shellfish are sourced from the Atlantic. We use classic Italian cheeses for cooking and cheese plates as well as artisanal Italian style cheeses from Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire cheese makers. Some of Vespa’s salami is made locally as well as in our own kitchen, including pates, terrines, sausages and cured meats. Mustard, pickles and relishes are also made in the restaurant’s kitchen.