"It’s no secret that the last couple of years have been complicated for anyone in hospitality. The name of the game is to stay as agile as you can.”
Pamela Ratti and her husband took that idea of agility to a whole new level with Galleria, their business-of-all-trades that runs the gambit of visual, culinary and musical arts, and constantly looks for ways to expand.
The Rattis had purchased the Italian restaurant that previously occupied the historic space in 2018, knowing they would have to make changes. They also acquired the next-door property and started a small art gallery the following year.
After two years of various setbacks and delays, the arrival of a well-known pandemic was an ultimate blow to the restaurant. Galleries, though, with their look-don’t-touch nature, are conducive to all safety precautions.
After knocking down walls and updating the design, Galleria emerged from the heat of the pandemic with a thriving art gallery, bistro and event spaces.
“We married the culinary arts with actual visual arts,” Ratti said. “It’s like all of the arts crammed in here — everything that tastes really good and looks really pretty.”
The gallery’s origin was a joint effort between Ratti and her mother, a Holland-based artist. Having always wanted to start a business together, a gallery seemed like the perfect opportunity. Once word got out, her connections in the art community contributed to creating a full gallery and waitlist
“People just started coming out of the woodwork, asking if we had any space left,” Ratti said. Now, five resident artists call Galleria their home studio, and 10 more that only exhibit.
As a family business first and foremost, the executive chef is co-owner and husband Sacha Ratti, an Italian native who has lived, cooked and acquired talents from all over the world. He recruited their talented back-of-house staff, filling the kitchen with its own resident artists, including the Naples-trained pizzaiolo.
The menu is full of appealing dishes, rotating specials, coffee, fresh homemade breads, pastas and soups, but the highlight is the authentic Neapolitan pizzas, created from scratch in-house.
“There’s lots of places to just sit down with a coffee or a glass of wine,” Ratti said. The gallery encourages a slow experience, taking in the artistry of the cocktails, exhibits and food. “There’s art everywhere.”
Despite the frames on the walls and the plates on the tables, Galleria isn’t just a place to appreciate the finished product of somebody else’s art. Classes in painting, weaving, mosaic, pasta-making, bread-making, and a dozen other arts are available all year round.
Less hands-on, but still just as involved are their Chef’s Tables. Attendees book a reservation and, prior to the date, meet with the chef in-person or via phone. Together, they develop a menu, wine pairings and side dishes, and on the night of the reservation, Chef Ratti prepares the entire meal in front of the guests, in a live display of culinary artistry.
“We think it’s really unique,” Ratti said. “Everyone that comes in says they haven’t seen anything like it before.”
Ratti couldn’t stop at just visual and culinary arts. In the last year, she created a relationship with Hope College’s music department, and various student musical groups exhibit their art form every Saturday night during the school year.
“I don’t know what we’ll add next,” she said. Always open to fresh ideas and experiences, creating new food specials, and updating their class offerings, Galleria is never stagnant. “We’ll see what other arts we come across.”
447 Washington Ave., Holland