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Philip Frattaroli, North End restaurant-empire scion, seeks citywide Council seat

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  May 31, 2013 02:25 PM

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Filippo and Philip Frattaroli.jpg

Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com

Father and son: Filippo Frattaroli, owner of Filippo Ristorante, and his son Philip Frattaroli, owner of neighboring Ducali Pizzeria & Bar and candidate for an at-large seat on the Boston City Council.

North End resident and restaurateur Philip Frattaroli had a busy day Wednesday.

The owner of Ducali Pizzeria & Bar was celebrating not just his 31st birthday but also the official launch of his campaign for a citywide seat on the Boston City Council.

For Frattaroli — scion of the Italian immigrant family that owns Lucia Ristorante & Bar , Artú Rosticceria & Trattoria, Filippo Ristorante, and the soon-to-open Ward 8 Restaurant & Bar — the decision to run for office might seem inevitable. He studied political science at Boston College before earning a law degree at Suffolk University, and he has worked in political campaigns and served on the elected North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council.

In an interview on Wednesday, though, he said he did not feel he had the right perspective to run until recently, and he made the decision quickly.

“I spent a lot of the honeymoon trying to figure out what my next move was,” said Frattaroli, who married his wife Kelly on March 9. “And then when I came home, I think a couple of days later Menino made his announcement [that he would not seek re-election], and then all the dominoes started to fall.”

Frattaroli said he wants to bring his experiences and concerns as a business owner, husband, and — someday, he hopes — a father, to the Council and to work on the issues that he considers vital to residents like himself.

He wants to make life easier by increasing access to quality schools close to home and by simplifying and making more transparent the system’s notoriously difficult process of licensing and permitting new businesses, he said.

“I feel like the perspective of a small business owner isn’t one that’s typically involved, especially in local politics, and that’s kind of what I want to voice,” he said.

“When I opened the restaurant, I had to deal with about 15 different city departments,” he said, pointing out that his law degree gave him an advantage over entrepreneurs like his own father, who emigrated from Italy in 1970, a 16-year-old who had only completed the eighth grade.

“[For] somebody like my dad, who came here with a limited education, limited funds, I don’t think that [opportunity] exists anymore … to open a business and to be successful,” he said. “I want to make sure if somebody has an idea, if somebody wants to create jobs and revenue … I think that we should make it a little bit easier.”

Frattaroli said he also saw the coming shake-up in city government, with the powerful five-term mayor stepping down and several councilors relinquishing their seats to seek the top job, as a rare opportunity.

“Hopefully under the new mayor, the City Council will have a louder voice and can kind of be a laboratory of ideas in democracy,” he said. “It’s tough with a strong-mayor system, but the new mayor’s not going to be as strong as the last one.”

David Marx serves with Frattaroli on the Neighborhood Council and tied with him for fourth place in the vote tally at the council’s most recent election on May 18. At Frattaroli’s campaign launch party inside Filippo Ristorante, Marx praised him for his involvement in the community, commitment to his family, and dedication to the council.

“He’s probably as active as any of our council members over e-mail, talking about different issues,” said Marx, 37. “He doesn’t sit back, definitely.”

James Luisi, chief executive officer of North End Waterfront Health, said Frattaroli has supported the health center’s work with youth and has expressed interest in helping build a satellite center to serve the Charlestown public housing development.

“I’ve worked with him for the past few years on health issues in the North End, and he’s been very involved on issues of substance abuse [and] bullying,” Luisi said.

Luisi, who has family roots in the North End but lives in Dorchester, said he was eager to help Frattaroli reach out to voters in other parts of the city, as did South End resident Ashley Stolba.

Stolba, 28, and Lauren Peters, 25, said they met Frattaroli in 2010 while working together on Republican Charlie Baker’s bid to unseat Democratic Governor Deval Patrick.

“Obviously his roots are in the North End,” Stolba said, but she believes he has the ability “to really get out there and represent all of Boston.”

Peters praised Frattaroli for his dedication to public service, pointing out the stocky restaurateur’s unlikely 2012 run in the Boston Marathon, which he completed despite intense heat, raising more than $30,000 for the UMass ALS Champion Fund.

The fund helps to raise awareness and to fund research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Peters said Frattaroli brings an unusual portfolio of skills, having a law degree, experience in politics and public policy, and the managerial skills to run his own business and deal with staff issues.

“Usually, they don’t go hand in hand,” she said.

Frattaroli acknowledged that his past work in Republican campaigns, including a presidential bid by former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, could be an obstacle in this heavily Democratic city.

He said, though, that he considers himself a moderate Massachusetts Republican in the vein of former Governors William Weld and Paul Cellucci, “socially liberal but fiscally conservative,” and that he changed his voter registration to Independent two years ago over frustrations with policies of the national Republican Party.

He said that the candidate matters more than the party, and that he believes he has the potential to be an important spokesman for young families and small business owners.

“I think that this election will kind of determine the path of the city for at least the next eight years, and it’s exciting to be a part of that,” he said. “I want to make sure that the voices that I think I represent are part of the new order of the city.”

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow the North End on Twitter: @YourNorthEnd.

Frattaroli kickoff.jpg

Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com

A face in the crowd: Frattaroli, at top center, chatted with supporters at his campaign kickoff event inside Filippo Ristorante Wednesday night.

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