There’s a mini Italian food empire growing in Fort Greene, and the two women leading it brought back from Italy a passion for food and a savvy for business. Beginning with Aita, the rustic Italian eatery on the corner of Greene and Waverly that soon expanded to an adjoining bar called The Mayflower, co-owners Giulia Pelliccioni and Silvia Barban brought authentic Italian dining to the neighborhood and managed to avoid the obvious dishes you’d find in places across the city.

This year, the pair has opened a new restaurant just a few blocks north on Myrtle Avenue called LaRina Pastificio & Vino, with head chef Barban crafting fresh, homemade pasta daily.
Silvia Barban 
Where do you live and how old are you?
I live in Fort Greene and I’m 27.
What made you first interested in your profession, and how old were you when that happened?
When I was young and growing up in Italy I spent a lot of time with my grandmother because my parents were working. She took care of me and I was always with her when she was cooking. But she passed away when I was nine, so I got into cooking because I missed her and her cooking. I wanted to prepare some of the dishes she used to make, like polenta and bacalao, and have other people enjoy my food like they enjoyed her food. She also made the best roasted potatoes, but I haven’t been able to replicate that.
Do you feel Brooklyn is still a viable place for a young person to build a career?
Brooklyn is still a perfect place for young people to be successful. The borough is full of young artists and other talented people.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I hope to have another restaurant and a family. And to still be living in Brooklyn
Have you ever felt like leaving your career path?
No, I never thought about that because cooking is my life; it’s a part of me.
What’s felt like you’re biggest professional accomplishment?
First off, moving to the United States four years ago and working here as a chef. And most recently, opening LaRina Pastificio & Vino as the chef and partner.
What’s some advice you’d give to people trying to get a foothold in your industry?
Never give up, work hard, and always cook what you love.
Who are your role models in your industry?
Giancarlo Perbellini, who has two Michelin stars and owns five restaurants in Italy. I worked for him for two years at Casa Perbellini in Verona.

 

Giulia Pelliccione
Where do you live and how old are you?
I live in Brooklyn and I am 28 (29 in November)
What made you first interested in your profession, and how old were you when that happened?
My parents owned a restaurant back in Italy since a year after I was born until a couple of years ago. I grew up in the restaurant and started to work in it at around 15. For me, restaurants and their environment were part of everyday life, the long hours, sharing meals with lots of people, the work-life life that is created around it. And whenever we were not there the whole family would check out other restaurants.
I never thought this would also become my own profession, even though I knew I wanted my life [to center] around food and travel. I felt almost like it was just too simple for me to just pursue my parents career and the only thing I ever did as young person. Coming to New York, working in restaurants was the easiest thing I could do in order to survive and figure out what could have happened next for me. And there I realized it wasn’t only continuing something I knew how to do, but a strong passion and love for what I was doing that I would have never found anywhere else.
Do you feel Brooklyn is still a viable place for a young person to build a career?
Yes I do, it happened to me, and Silvia is another clear example. Also, all my business partners are quite young. There is definitely a different energy and motivation in younger people. Maybe we can be a bit naive at times but dreaming never hurts. Brooklyn is definitely a greater place to be successful than Italy right now, for example.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
A question I ask myself a lot. Sometimes it almost feels like everything has been accomplished, but it’s not true. I see myself in the same business for sure but hopefully at a higher level. It’s crazy how much you can grow up in few years. I constantly challenge myself to become better, to learn more, to do more, and hopefully some of this will be accomplished in the next ten years. I am hoping to have more time to focus more on my main passion, which is wine, and let go of other things that younger people could take over. I see myself traveling a bit more, too.
Have you ever felt like leaving your career path?
Not really. It wasn’t always easy and I often dreamed of being in a vineyard somewhere in California and making wine and picking vegetables, but I knew that inside nothing would make me happier and more satisfied than what I am doing right now.
What’s felt like you’re biggest professional accomplishment?
LaRina. This last restaurant. It was a summary of all the past experiences, and I feel like I was able to accomplish a lot of personal challenges and visions.
What’s some advice you’d give to people trying to get a foothold in your industry?
WORK HARD. Stay true to yourself and listen to everybody and nobody at the same time. Be passionate and always look for what makes you happy even in difficult times. It is a hard business but If you love it, it is rewarding. Also, never think you have arrived. It’s an ever evolving industry and we always need to be aware of what is happening around us.
Who are your role models in your industry?
I have listened to and followed my partner Roberto [Aita] a lot and learned many things from him. He probably has 15 years of experience more than I do so everything he taught me has helped shape me into what I am now, even when we don’t see eye to eye.
Danny Meyer’s book made me dream.
Another model is also Andrew Tarlow, I much admire what he has accomplished in such little time. And he is quite young, too. He is a person I would love to meet and exchange a couple of words with.

To learn about 29 more accomplished sub-thirty-year-olds, visit this year’s Envy Index

Image by Jane Bruce 

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