Born and raised in Harvard Square, Paul Manzelli knew the ins and outs of every street in Cambridge. His great-great-grandpa lived next to Longfellow Park on Mt. Auburn Street, and Paul grew up in that historic home. Flash forward twenty-something years and Paul is making some neighborhood history of his own – this time outside Inman Square on the Cambridge/Somerville line.
As Bar Manager of the highly acclaimed Bergamot Restaurant in Somerville, Paul brings a deep talent for creating and mixing cocktails, years of experience in the restaurant/bar industry, and an instantly contagious smile and warmth that has quickly made Bergamot’s bar a neighborhood destination. Classic cocktails with classic ingredients touched by a creative twist is Paul’s mission at Bergamot. “You won't find any molecular bartending here,” he explains. “It is all about staying true to the commitment of the best, freshest ingredients, brought together really well in a glass for you to enjoy. That’s what I want to accomplish with every cocktail.”
A hard worker, Paul’s first job was as a kid at Harvard Square’s Out of Town News. There he quickly learned the art of reading people (not textbooks). After graduating from school he landed a job at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston – the envy of every underage youth.
There wasn’t a food or drink that Paul wouldn’t try, so he knew his next stop was a restaurant where he could learn more about the food side of the business. He met Servio Garcia, then the General Manager of the legendary Cambridge restaurant Casablanca. Hired as a bartender, Paul quickly became the Bar Manager and then Assistant General Manager, all the time mixing great cocktails and learning the restaurant business. Paul had his “Aha!” moment when a guest ordered a Sancerre. “She looked at me and asked me what Sancerre was. I guessed it was a grape. I was mortified when I looked it up and immediately, really the very next day, enrolled in Boston University’s Wine Program. I didn’t ever want to be ignorant again!” Paul graduated from levels 1, 2, and 3 at BU and says it was the smartest thing he ever did.
With his experience at Boston University, Paul knew it was just the beginning of his formal education into the business, and next graduated from Newbury College’s Hotel & Restaurant Management program. After a year at Mistral as the floor manager, Paul headed back home to Cambridge to the new Craigie On Main. There he worked with Bar Manager Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli and Chef/Owner Tony Maws. “You knew you had to bring your A-game to the bar every day. It was extraordinary – so busy, so creative, so committed."
Paul joining Bergamot completes the circle of incredibly talented and committed individuals leading the team at this new restaurant earning high marks from critics and consumers alike. With Keith Pooler in the kitchen, Servio Garcia on the floor, Kai Gagnon directing the wine program, Stacy Mirabello creating pastries, it was time for Paul to reunite with Servio and run the Bergamot Bar. Paul's presence at Bergamot has deepened its stamp as the neighborhood bar in the area.