Couple has right ingredients for running restaurants
Husband-and-wife Ingrid and Fabrizio Aielli are partners in two restaurants in Naples’ historic Third Street South district. He’s largely behind the scenes in the kitchens of Sea Salt and Barbatella, while she greets and watches over guests in the dining room.
I was fortunate to hear their story from Ingrid herself one evening.
She grew up with her parents and brother in socialist Czechoslovakia and studied civil engineering. He grew up in Venice, Italy, the son of a career military officer who believed that “cooking was a woman’s work.” Ingrid told me that when Fabrizio persisted in pursuing a career based on his love of food and cooking, he initially was extricated from the family (they have since reunited, she happily reported).
He was working as a chef in Venice when the two met at a mutual friend’s wedding. They said their own vows just three months later. It was a couple of years later that restaurateur friend who also owned the venerable Galileo in Washington, D.C., persuaded them to emigrate to the nation’s capital. Fabrizio became a chef and Ingrid a hostess at Galileo.
In a few short years, the Aiellis had opened their own restaurant, Goldoni, expanded and renamed it Osteria Goldoni o1t and then, in 1999, launched the even more ambitious
TTh Teatro Goldoni. Together, they had become stars of the metropolitan Washington restaurant scene.
They would probably still be there today, had a friend not invited them to take a brief vacation in Naples. That trip led to more visits, and also to an invitation in 2005 for Fabrizio to be a guest chef at the Naples Winter Wine Festival.
The Aiellis fell in love with the Paradise Coast — its climate, its people, its possibilities — and in the fall of 2007, they sold out of D.C. and moved here full time, with plans to open something new and different.
That new and something different was Sea Salt. Barbatella followed just last year.
Ingrid and Fabrizio are proud of their two eateries, but even more so, they are proud of the jobs their restaurants have created for Neapolitans. Mix in the philanthropic generosity for which they are known throughout the community, and you get a recipe for certain success. ¦
— Bob Harden is the producer and host of “The Bob Harden Show,” airing from 7- 8 a. m. weekdays at www.bobharden.com. The show is archived for listeners’ convenience.
Talking points with Ingrid Aielli
Mentor: My grandmother
Something your mother was always right about: Don’t burn bridges. You never know when you may need to cross them again.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A teacher.
First job: During high school, I worked in a grocery story. I ate more than I earned.
What would you be doing if you weren’t running two restaurants in Naples? I would be a holistic healer.
Something that’s been on your mind: A 32-ounce aged Kobe Tomahawk steak.
Something you’ll never understand: The English language.
Guilty pleasure: Gelato.
Next vacation destination: Venice, Italy
Skill or talent you wish you had: I would love to be able to sing.
Something that makes you laugh: Myself.
Last book you read: The Bible. I’m still reading it.
Pet peeve: People who don’t deliver what they promise.
What the Paradise Coast really needs: More year-round residents.
Favorite thing about the Paradise Coast: The sunsets.