Kevin O’Donnell

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Kevin got his feet wet in hospitality early on. Starting as a dishwasher at age 16 in a local mom and pop restaurant he then worked at a variety of restaurants and pizzerias throughout high school, gaining experience from prep to pizza to line cook. It wasn’t until he graduated, however, that he truly stepped into the restaurant industry in a serious way. Under the mentorship of Chef Walter Slater at Junction Pizzeria in Wickford, Kevin truly fell in love with cooking and the undeniable adrenaline of the kitchen.

While there, Kevin was inspired to enroll in Johnson & Wales’ Continuing Education program which afforded him the chance to intern in Italy – an exciting opportunity to connect with his heritage and explore its cuisine. After four months, he returned home where he met his next mentor – and now-collaborator/Giusto Director of Operations – Aaron Edwards, and joined him at his new restaurant, Trattoria del Corso, as Chef de Cuisine. Here, Kevin’s love for Italian food blossomed, but after a year was pulled back to Italy.

For two and a half years, Kevin fully immersed himself in Italian culture and cuisine under Chef Lorenzo Polegri at Ristorante Zeppelin in Orvieto. It’s here that he first experienced the creativity of freestyle, creative Italian cooking, and Kevin credits this time and Polegri’s tutelage with inspiring him to think outside the box while inside the kitchen.

Back in the States, Kevin cooked at the famed Castle Hill Inn in Newport and then the Michelin-starred Del Posto in New York City. Opportunity again came knocking, and he headed back across the pond, this time to Paris. As Executive Chef, Kevin opened L’Office, a tiny bistro that garnered rave reviews and recognition both locally and internationally for its melding of French and Italian cuisine.

In 2012, Kevin joined forces with the owners of The Salty Pig in Boston and developed its pasta and charcuterie programs. Three years later, the team collaborated on a brand new restaurant concept, and in January 2016 opened SRV with co-chef Michael Lombardi. The Venetian-style Bacaro and wine bar was an immediate success, earning a 4-star review from Boston magazine, James Beard Award nomination, and continued critical acclaim since.

Kevin now lives with his family back in his home state of Rhode Island where he opened his first solo venture, Giusto in September of 2020. Giusto is a freestyle Italian restaurant located on the water in downtown Newport focusing on regional Italian dishes influenced by Rhode Island.