The area that some define as “The Italian Food Mile” unfolds more or less vertically on the map of Manhattan along Broadway, between Union Square and the historic Flatiron skyscraper. Here it is possible to find some of the best representatives of the Italian cuisine in New York: the Ribalta pizza restaurant, Nutella Bar, Venchi Chocolate & Gelato, and the comprehensive Eataly. All of them have in common the great attention with which the raw materials are selected. However, this is a trait that they share with many other Italian establishments, what set them apart are the great entrepreneurial minds behind them.
To make the difference in Ribalta is the Neapolitan Rosario Procino, who was called in by Riccardo Agugiaro –
owner of the restaurant as well as of Agugiaro & Figna, the first milling company in Italy – to raise the fate of the pizzeria. Thanks to Procino vision and the mastery of Neapolitan pizza chef Pasquale Cozzolino, Ribalta went from forty thousand dollars of monthly losses to be one of the most successful pizza restaurants in the Big Apple. Procino restyled Ribalta as an Italia sports bar from the 80s with a wood oven to make authentic Neapolitan pizzas, a mega-screen, succulent pasta dishes, and very good wines, all immersed in a cheerfully Italian atmosphere.
Procino was working in the IT industry in Naples, but the love for an American woman and for good food changed his destiny. When he moved to the United States he first worked at Telecom NY and then at Academia Barilla, moving from IT consultant to sales manager. Ten years later he decided to venture in the world of restaurants and, thankfully for all Ribalta’s guests, he never looked back.
Ilona Catani Scarlett