Born and raised in Queens, New York to an Italian-Croatian restaurant family, Franco showed an early interest in cooking. His father, Remo and grandfather, Bepe, were chefs and owners of Capriccio Ristorante in Manhattan. This upbringing exposed him to the workings of a kitchen at a young age. It also gave Franco an appreciation for fine food.
After attending Cornell University, Franco pursued a career in the culinary arts. He moved to Italy and began cooking as an apprentice in some of the finest kitchens of Rome, Florence, Milan and Lucca. This three year sojourn provided him with a solid base in the diverse cooking styles of Northern Italy along with an appreciation for European culture.
Upon returning to New York, Franco continued his education by working alongside his father at Capriccio. He then moved on to take on line cook, sous-chef and then chef positions at some of New York City's finest Italian restaurants, including Toscana and Il Monello.
In 1989, Franco opened Aria Restaurant in midtown Manhattan. Aria's menu was contemporary Italian and very well received by New York diners. Here, Franco's cooking style reflected his training and upbringing in that the flavors were Italian, the ingredients Mediterranean and the techniques Modern American.
In early 1997, a Southern California restaurant group called upon Franco to create a menu that was truly American for the Trilogy restaurant. The challenge was to blend different ingredients from across the U.S. with the worldly techniques. "American cuisine with global influences" is how Chef Franco describes the menu at Trilogy. The California experience greatly enhanced his cooking style.
In late 1999, Franco returned to NYC and joined the team at Piccola Venezia in Astoria as executive chef. For almost 30 years, Piccola Venezia has offered the best homemade pasta, freshest seafood and most wonderful desserts available anywhere.
This September Franco and Chris Vlacich, one of the owners of Piccola Venezia are planning to open VOLO, a gourmet shop and catering company. With an Italian emphasis, they will carry on the tradition of quality that is Piccola Venezia.
Chef's Recipes :Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut
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