On the Line: Giovanni Roman of Roman Cucina, Part Two

Ten years and four Roman Cucinas later, brothers David and Giovanni continue to grow their Italian empire. They evolve with the needs of their clientele and claim their mom as an inspiration. There's more to love in part two, but part one is just as saucy.

Hardest lesson you've learned:
That you have to let go and be able to trust people.

What would your last meal on Earth be:
Pasta aglio olio, fettuccine Alfredo and a See's milk-chocolate bar.

Who's your hero, culinary or otherwise?

My culinary hero would be my mom; she can outcook anyone, no matter what type of cuisine.

Tell us about your food-service-industry background.
I learned from my mother, sisters, and trial and error. And I was a host at Hamburger Hamlet for a few months while in high school.

I hear you and your brother lead an active outdoor lifestyle. What kinds of sports do you partake in?
We work out and go biking.

It has been a decade since you opened the first Roman Cucina. Are there any plans to celebrate, or did you already?
Honestly, that day came and went, and I don't think we even noticed. I think my brother and I are so concentrated on how to get better that we miss a lot of those things. Although, there are days when we recognize with amazement how blessed we are to have a great company.

You have locations in different communities (beach, neighborhood, downtown). How do you decide where to open next?
Opportunity meets timing. My brother makes the decision in the end, and I think he just has a very strong business intuition.

What kinds of options do you have for those with dietary restrictions?
We added some vegetarian and gluten-free options to our menu. Currently, those are only available at our Costa Mesa location, but they will soon be at all locales.

Any happy hour specials?
For Martini Mondays, we have $5 martinis and premium well drinks all night long. On Tuesdays, it's buy one pasta, get the second half off. And for Wine Wednesdays, it's half off all of our wines by the bottle, or you can bring in your own wine and we won't charge corkage.

We want to know more about the pizza.
Our pizza is great; we have a few signature ones. The Italiano has our ground homemade meatballs, ricotta cheese and pepperoni. It's awesome. The white pizza is my favorite, though — just olive oil, garlic, basil and mozzarella. It's simple but great.

What dish would you tell newcomers to Roman Cucina to try first?
I would start with a bruchetta, and then the pasta with sausage bolognese.

What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
Good question; I often ask myself that.

What advice do you have for those who might be thinking about a career in food?
It's a rewarding business, but it can be demanding of your time. If you invest the time and hard work, it will pay off!

What do you see yourself doing in five years? Ten years?
I pray that I'll be working at Roman Cucina still. And I hope to have some kids by then.

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