About Corvo Bianco
Food is the cornerstone of our lives. Josh and I both grew up in families where most activities centered around the kitchen.
The Foodie Family
I grew up in NY in a large, loud, happy, fighting Italian foodie family. Every Sunday was family dinner. Mama (grandma) came home from church and cooked “Gravy” (the NY Italian word for sauce), meatballs and ziti for hours. All of us kids watched and helped.
Every holiday was huge in our world; we had 10 course meals that went on all day with long tables set up all through the house that fit every aunt, uncle and cousin you could imagine. There was wine, espresso, Sambucca, Anisette, an endless amount of food that had been prepared for the entire week prior to the event, a ton of fighting and an equal amount of loving. Nobody left mad and family always stuck together. And it all, always, revolved around food.
Summers were spent gathered with family with endless barbeques and trays and trays of food- eggplant parm, meatballs, sausage, chicken cutlets, “gravy”, baked ziti, zucchini, salads, the best Italian cheese cake in the world and the list goes on and on.
One of my first memories was going to our family friends' (which, if you are Italian, you know that close friends are just the same as family) restaurant, Caserellas, where the chef would let us in the kitchen and give all of us kids pizza dough to play with (this was before the days when it was normal for restaurants to do this).
From Childhood Dream to a Life Career
I knew then from that young age that I wanted to be a chef. When I was old enough I got my first job in a restaurant. I tried my hand at being a server but my real love was always back of the house.
My very first job cooking in a restaurant was the pizza chef at an Italian restaurant that had a huge wood fired oven in the center of the restaurant, where all of the patrons could watch the pizziola (pizza chef) make the pies. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I was a teenager, hauling wheelbarrows full of logs inside and building a wood fire every day, making dough from scratch, balling it and making specialty pizzas to order during service.
My cooking career took many different roads throughout my time as a chef. I lived in Florence, Italy and was lucky enough to be able to study Italian food, art and cooking as well as travel around Europe sampling other cuisines. From there I attended The Culinary Institute of America and went on to work at many different restaurants in NY until I worked my way up to Executive chef.
I branched off into catering and helped to run a few different large scale catering companies as the Executive Chef. But I always wanted something of my own. Something I could run for myself. And I always wanted to fall back on Italian food, on wood fired cooking, on dough, on the place were I planted my roots…Pizza!
I grew up in a family with three brothers. My family never really ate out and it was customary for my mom to cook dinner for the family every night.
I learned to cook at a young age and always enjoyed it. One of my first jobs, at 15, was in a restaurant. As I got older I began to learn the intricacies of cooking on fire and smoking meat. I loved it so much that I have worked on perfecting this craft for the last 20 years by cooking on fire, building different custom pits and experimenting with different products.
Navy Life (and cooking)
I joined the Navy out of high school and that path lead me to many different places in and outside of our country. I was able to see the world and experience and appreciate all different cuisines and cultures. One of my jobs while on active duty was as the assistant to the “night baker”, where I helped prepare food nightly for 350 sailors.
After the Navy I held many jobs in the food service industry. Most in the front of the house - from bar back, to bar tender, to server, to manager.
Civilian Life (and even more cooking)
After being discharged honorably from the United States Navy, I transitioned to becoming a civilian merchant mariner, where for the first 10 years, one of my duties was to cook for the entire crew on all of my boats.
I've always been drawn to food. Whether it was cooking for the crew on my boats, working in a restaurant to fulfill that itch, or cooking for my family and friends. Good food was a constant is my life. But one of my most favorite positions was as a pizziolo (pizza chef) in a pizzeria in Tampa. I loved the art of making dough and cooking the pies. Twenty years later I still feel the same.
Dena and I have a special kind of love story. We’ve known each other since we were babies. Our parents were friends before either us were born. Our families stayed close throughout our lives even though Dena grew up in NY and I grew up here in Dunedin.
Although time passed and life gets in the way, we always stayed close and our bond was unbreakable. We reconnected while Dena was still in college and became best buddies. We spoke often and visited each other in the different states we lived in when ever we could.
The New York Jedi
I moved to NY for work for awhile and we hung out as often as we could. I would go and wait for Dena to get off work at the restaurant at the end of the night; we would stay up talking all night. I had a huge crush on her then, but she was totally oblivious.
When I would go over and visit she would cook special dishes for me at the restaurant and at her house. Dena rarely cooked outside of work and one of her roommates told me that I must be special, because she never had time to cook for anyone at home. That made me feel like a million bucks.
I decided to play “Jedi mind tricks” on her - I was going to “get the girl”. This took many years of patience, but we always remained nothing but super close friends. I was always the perfect gentleman and waited until the perfect time to profess my love for her.
In the end we got together throwing a party, which was a very fitting start for us. I was living back in Dunedin again, and decided I wanted to throw a big party and cook for all of my friends. Obviously, Dena was the only person that I wanted by my side while throwing this huge party. So Dena flew down to help me. We created a menu and shopped and cooked for days. And just like that the “Jedi mind tricks” finally paid off and Dena fell in the love with the man who had already fallen for her.
Marrying your Best Friend
I told Dena that if she would have me I would pick up and move to NY for her. She didn’t believe me but, lo and behold, I immediately packed up my house and moved to NY to be with her, and that was the start of our love story. The dream of many is to marry your best friend; well I am the luckiest guy because I did just that.
We got married a few years later and our wedding was featured on TLC’s show Four Weddings. The show was looking for interesting weddings and came across ours when they found out we were cooking for 250 guests ourselves. We catered our own, with a menu that included 10 butler-passed hors d’oeuves and a stationary antipasto table for cocktail hour. This was followed by a flight around the world of 8 different food stations, each featuring “street foods” from a different country. Everyone thought we were crazy, but we had a blast!
Since then we moved back to Florida and had two beautiful children, who seem to have developed our love for food. Our daughter has been baking since she was two and has already decided that she is going to be a pastry chef when she grows up.
The Present: Corvo Bianco
We have always had the dream of growing old together and doing what we love most, being together, drinking good coffee and cooking great food for people. We both have a passion for good food, excellent flavors, quality ingredients, organic and non-gmo whenever possible. Our passion is to feed the mind, body and soul.
We are an ingredient and method driven company. We pride ourselves on offering the best quality local, organic, grass-fed ingredients and imported Italian items. We prepare them in a manner that helps to give our customers a truly intoxicating eating experience.