BY TINA PAPPAS
It’s a love affair with fresh cuisine and pleasing his patrons when it comes to Arturo Morocho’s passion. As owner of Casa Arturo, located at 75 Main Street in Little Falls, (where the former Toscania Trattoria restaurant was located) he says he always gets pleasure in making sure his patrons leave very satisfied from his restaurant .
Originally from Ecuador, Morocho has lived in the U.S. for the past 19 years and has made restauranteering an art form. It was a dream of his to open up his own place, and the dream became a reality. Casa Artusro offers a variety of fish, pasta chicken, along with an extensive list of specials served daily.
“I’ve owned this restaurant for the past two years and five months and it has consistently been growing, mainly because of word of month and I’m grateful for that,” Morocho explained. “I used to work at Justin’s in Hawthorne as head waiter and I learned a lot working there. But I had wanted to take a chance and challenge myself for some time so I did it. Our cuisine here is Italian Continental and I have a wonderful chef and staff.”
Growing up in Ecuador, he married his sweetheart, Bertha, right after graduating high school. They are now raising four children. The restaurant has become a real family business for them, with his children helping out when they can.
“I had just graduated high school and was newly married but my wife and I realized that there just wasn’t any opportunity to grow back in our home town,” he recalled. “So we migrated to the states in 2001. My oldest child, a daughter and is now 18, helps me couple of times a week in between her college courses as head waitress.. She’s doing great and people really like her. My son who is 14, also helps me out as a busser, when he’s not in school or studying.”
When asked if he think his own children might follow in his footsteps, Morocho was a little unsure.
“They really are helpful and have a great work ethic but I feel they want to follow different paths,” he said. “They realize that you have to your heart in this and love it because it’s long hours – up to six days a week when you have to be at your restaurant. It takes dedication and commitment so if you’re just in it to make money, you’re not going to get very far.”
Morocho said his patrons typically come from the surrounding areas, such as Woodland Park, Totowa, Cedar Grove, Clifton, Wayne, the Caldwells, and of course, Little Falls. He said he has developed a clientele of loyal regulars as well, which he is on a first-name basis with. Many of their repeated requests for menu items are his stuffed artichoke and stuffed fig appetizers. Osobucco entrees, which are shanks of either lamb, pork or veal, are his popular entrees.
The family now hails from Bogota, N.J. and have recently opened up a second restaurant that features Colombian cuisine called “Bertha’s.” Morocho said the venture is going well so far. As an entrepreneur, he said the key is always to keep making his patrons happy and keeping things from getting repetitive and redundant, especially when it comes to his menus.
“I like to change the menu up, especially the daily specials so it’s not the same old thing over and over again,” he explained. “I like to do this weekly. We have land and sea appetizers and entrees here at Casa Arturo’s. We offer different kinds of fish, depending on what the market has, such as Chilean sea bass, halibut. We just like to change it up as much as we can. My customers really love that. Our restaurant is a very welcoming place where you can come to enjoy our food and feel you are at home but eating out.
Morocho also likes to get creative and come up with new dishes at least a month in advance to be ready to serve them to his patrons. He has an array of early bird specials served between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. daily, as well.He added that he tries to buy minimally, in order to ensure freshness to his patrons with each appetizer or entree he serves to them.
“I just don’t want the food getting old,” he noted. “I only buys around five pounds of an item to make sure everything is always the freshest it can be. That’s always a priority here.”
One of Morocho’s vision for Casa Arturo is to expand the space one day, if the opportunity presented itself.
“I would love to have the place grow and seat more people,” he said. “We get very busy here, especially on the weekend nights. We’re busy here weekdays as well.”
Casa Arturo was recently featured on the “On The Road” series on Cablevision’s News12 and spotlighted in The Record.
Some local patrons, who dine regularly, were on hand and said the food served is always fresh and delicious, which keeps them coming back.
“I absolutely love Arturo’s daily, specials,” said Danielle Furtenbacher, of Cedar Grove. “The food is always fresh.”
Scott Lowe, also of Cedar Grove, echoed the sentiment.
“His dishes are always delicious and the entree I just had here tonight, a pork dish, was fantastic.”
Morocho said he felt very touched by all the support for his restaurant he’s has received the past few years.
“I really want thank the community, local mayor and council and all my wonderful patrons for the support and love they’ve shown to us, ever since we first opened up.”
Casa Arturo is a BYOB establishment and is opened from Tuesdays to Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Fridays frm 12 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Lunch specials are from Tuesdays to Fridays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Early bird specials are on Tuesdays to Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m, and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
For more info visit http://www.arturobistro.com. or call (973) 837 8282 and ask for Arturo Morocho.