Chef PJ Calapa is the chef and owner of Scampi in the Flatiron District. Named as a tribute to one of Calapa’s favorite restaurants from his childhood in Texas, Scampi offers a thoughtful menu that showcases both the land and sea with delicately composed crudos, handmade pastas, seasonal vegetables procured from the greenmarket, and masterfully-prepared grilled items.
Having grown up in the Mexican border town of Brownsville, Texas, PJ Calapa was exposed to a range of cuisines and flavors at an early age. As a child, he began working in his grandmother’s kitchen and later in his grandfather’s wholesale fish business. Calapa continued to nurture his culinary passion during his undergraduate studies at Texas A&M University, and then moved to New York to attend the Culinary Institute of America. After graduation, Calapa worked at Bouley in Tribeca, Eleven Madison Park, and Nobu 57, where he started as a line cook and quickly rose through the ranks to become executive sous chef. It was at Nobu 57 that Calapa learned about the delicate art of Japanese cuisine, which still informs his vision for fine dining.
In 2010, Calapa joined Chef Michael White’s Altamarea Group to help launch Ai Fiori, which earned three stars from The New York Times, a Michelin star, and a 2013 StarChefs Rising Star Chef Award. Calapa then opened as executive chef Costata and the Campagna and the Barn at the Bedford Post Inn. In the Summer of 2016, Calapa left the Altamarea Group to open two new projects of his own. In the Spring of 2017, Calapa opened The Spaniard, his interpretation of an iconic New York Tavern in the West Village of Manhattan, followed by Scampi in the Flatiron District.