The American Dream – Pizza Style

THE LOCAL PIZZAiOLO reverberates with our mantra, #iOLO (I Only Live Once). If nothing else, it reminds us to follow our passions. Of course, we barely need the reminder, because we have our co-founder and head of culinary, Giulio Adriani, for that. Giulio’s pursuit of his passions is precisely why Atlanta gets to know the joy of flash-fried crust.  Especially with the latest news & headlines, we are reminded how grateful we are that he immigrated to our country.

And, we are thrilled he has received a nomination from the Georgia Restaurant Association for the prestigious GRACE Award for Diversity Leadership.  Even more special – the nomination comes from his peers in the restaurant industry.

Giulio with son Shane teaching at Pizza University

So – what is Giulio’s story & how did he become so passionate about pizza?  Passionate about life?  And, how did he come to live in the United States of America where we have such freedoms to pursue these passions?

Giulio’s grandfather, whom he never met, was a pastry chef. And his grandmother, from whom he learned many of his culinary skills, ruled in the kitchen. But for all intents and purposes, Giulio was from a family of accountants, and he was destined for a life of numbers.  He went on to University & earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting (to please his father) with plans to join the family firm.

Ever since Giulio was a little kid, he was always eating pizza, and he eventually wanted to learn the craft for himself. He sought mentorship from the pizza making father of a childhood friend as well as from his grandmother.  Even at University he continued to make pizza on the weekends & used that extra money to fund another passion, surfing, to take surf vacations even with his father’s disapproval.  “Surfing was a very exotic thing at that time in Italy, and of course my father was not thrilled with this,” Giulio says.   His other passion was also basketball & he eventually became a professional basketball player. So, you see he does everything with such zest but it was his passion for pizza making that truly charted the course for his life.

“I went to California for a surfing trip, and I told my dad that when I came back, I didn’t want to work for him. Basically, I hated accounting. I told him I wanted to make pizza, and of course he said, ‘no way.’ So, I made a deal with him. ‘You open me a pizza place and I’ll work all day in the office, and I’ll run the pizza place at night.’” His father accepted the agreement, and Giulio lived this double life for more than a decade, until his son was born.

“Now, of course, we have superstar chefs. But then, it Italy, pizza making was still considered a very humble job. Maybe even humiliating. My grandmother never said I worked in a pizza place, her whole life. She always told people I was an accountant.”

As Giulio rose through the pizza making draft, he became certified as an authentic Neapolitan Pizza Master by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) and the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani (APN).  Giulio then opened three restaurants in Italy, including the famous “Alla Corte dei Borboni,” located in Ostia near Rome, and became the head instructor at AVPN in 2008.  He also entered a variety of pizza making competitions and quickly began racking up world championship titles.

His last championship in 2010 was held in New York City, and Giulio fell in love. Olio Pizza e Più in the West Village asked him to come aboard as a consultant, so he packed his bags and made New York his new home. In 2011, Giulio launched his own restaurant, Forcella, in Manhattan and Brooklyn which was a full-service restaurant & ranked as one of the top pizzerias in the U.S. by Food & Wine Magazine.

“At Forcella, I created a twist on the Montanara,” an authentic Neapolitan pizza where the dough is flash-fried, toppings are added, and the pizza is finished off in a 1,000F-degree wood-burning oven. “One night, food writer Adam Kuban was in the house, and his eyes popped out when he tried this pizza. He wrote a great review, and soon we had lines out the door.” Giulio’s craft soon earned him a green card, as he proved to be a culinary addition to the United States.

We are so glad he quit accounting!

Giulio had consulted & worked with many businesses in New York, from an authentic Neapolitan Kosher pizzeria to the City’s first “Pizza Speakeasy” to a fleet of food trucks (Neapolitan Express). With the big apple officially under his belt, Giulio has brought his talents to the peach tree state.

He feels very welcomed by the people here and was very honored to receive a nomination from the Georgia Restaurant Association this last month for a GRACE Award for Diversity Leadership.  As an immigrant who is living their dream and leading teams of diverse talent, this is very meaningful.

“To me, the real measure of success is the legacy,” says Giulio. “Bringing this authentic, quality product to as many people as possible, to help them understand what pizza should be so that the whole industry benefits—that’s the American Dream for me.”