Bartender Interview

Raise a Glass

Siena's Sarah Pumple dishes on the restaurant industry

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Sarah Pumple is Director of Operations at Siena, and a longtime vet of the hospitality industry. We talked about what draws her to the front of the house, how Siena stands out in a state rife with red sauce joints and her go-to drink recipe to take the chill off of winter.

You’ve been at Siena almost seven years. Tell me about life before then.
I got my first job in hospitality when I was 14. Eventually I went other ways with my career, but I came back and stayed. I tried a mix of everything – pubs, fast-casual places, even a lobster place in Maine. Basically I wanted to learn as much as I could to understand the business.

You prefer the front of the house, right? That’s different, since being a chef is such a trendy fantasy now.

[Laughs] I mean, if the you-know-what hits the fan, I’ll get on the line. But yes, I do love the front of the house most. I like coordinating what’s happening there, and interacting with guests. And let’s face it, being in the kitchen is tough on you, especially long-term.

What’s your go-to order at the restaurant?
If I really want to treat myself, it’s the Frutti di Mare – a classic seafood pasta dish.

Rhode Island has more Italian restaurants than cars. How do you stand out from the pack?
We just try to do what we do very well. The owners, Anthony and Chris Tarro, like to say that we do a million little things right. Consistency is the main thing. We have signature dishes like the Bolognese, and we work hard to make sure they hit the mark every single time. We just want everyone that walks out the door to feel like they got something special when they chose us.

Siena
Locations in Providence, Smithfield and East Greenwich