You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is about. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. As a bonus, I’ve updated some of the questions!
THIS INTERVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED BY CARLSON ON HIS OWN BLOG.
I like pizza, and Bruno Zacchini’s restaurant, Pizza Bruno (Instagram | Website) has been raking in the good reviews and rewards since it opened in 2016. So it’s no surprise he knows how to sling amazing pies. Along with the great food (they’ve got wood-fired wings), he’s created a cool place in the Hourglass District to hang out, listen to good tunes, and chill with friends. It was fun getting to know Bruno and photographing him. And as a thrifting fan myself (RIP Community Thrift) I look forward to his eventual foray into that arena!
Who do you look up to?
I look up to a lot of chef-owners locally and throughout the world. Some I know personally and others just from IG. I look up to them to see how they have done things and what they do right and what they have done wrong. As they are more often than not willing to tell you everything they screwed up and how that changed their approach or their whole outlook on life and business. Those conversations are everything.
Favorite book, album, musician?
David Bowie. I would say he is one of my all-time favorite musicians and artists due to his ability to change and create a new version of himself while always remaining the epitome of cool. I will never ever get tired of hearing Young Americans playing at Pizza Bruno or anywhere!
What’s your favorite place to eat in Orlando?
Loaded question. There are ALOT of best places to eat in Orlando which makes this town so awesome! But my “BestPplace” shifts like the wind! ha! Currently, I’ve been hyping Reyes Mezcaleria (Instagram | Website) as we just love the happy hour menu and the fire-roasted garbanzos when they have them. Luke’s Kitchen and Bar (Instagram | Website) in Maitland is so good now with chef Jason Campbell leading the kitchen and you really can’t go wrong with anything there. Lastly, and people will probably roast me for this, but Jet’s Pizza (Instagram | Website) in Apopka is my go-to pizza place…. SERIOUSLY, order a four-square with Turbo Crust, it’s so dang good.
If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?
Never thought of this… and honestly I don’t have a good answer!
Who in your life has inspired you?
Micheal Solomonov. He is the Chef and owner of Zahav (Instagram | Website) and a slew of off-shoots from that restaurant. I was always aware of his restaurants but what I really knew more of was his story of when he opened Zahav and what he was going through while he did it. Which was very similar to what I went through when I opened Pizza Bruno. After about a year-and-a-half open I managed to take a trip to Philly to eat at Zahav (reservations are super hard to get) and the meal blew me away! So after that, I made a few more trips to Philly and always made a point to eat at one of his places and they all are just little offshoots of Israeli cuisine focusing on one item. Then on one trip to specifically go to Zahav (I got reservations and then booked the flight) before we sat down I noticed Chef Mike buzzing around the dining room and I decided to introduce myself. After that, we remained in contact and every time I ended up in Philly I would catch up with him at one of his places and it was crazy this world-renowned chef remembered me! His work ethic and passion are always something that inspire me along with his genuine humility and how damn down to earth the guy is. It is truly inspirational to see a man grow from his difficulties and succeed while also remaining humble and kind and that is something I aspire to.
What are you proud of?
Getting the doors open and keeping them open. The restaurant business is so hard physically, mentally, and emotionally. The 5 years I have been open have just been one lesson after the other from how to manage the financial aspects, the human aspects, down to my own self-care and how maintaining my well being has to be put in a place of importance if I am to do any good for anyone personally and professionally.
What rejuvenates you?
Traveling. Weekends to NYC, Philadelphia, LA, or the Jersey shore. This past year has been rough for a lot of reasons but one of the biggest is my inability to travel. I sort of have an internal clock that goes off every 3 months and I need to get out of town just to distance myself from my work, routine, my dogs (yes I love them but they are a lot of work!), and my normal eating out options. A successful weekend away revolves around snacks, naps, and thrifting with my wife Lila, recharging our creativity while also not tethered to work or any responsibilities.
There anything you haven’t done yet which you feel compelled to do?
Obviously more restaurants! I love creating experiences as a restaurant not just a restaurant fo restaurants sake, see: Money. A purely pasta restaurant, a restaurant focusing on live-fire cooking, and a classic slice shop are all on my shortlist.
How do you balance your personal and professional life?
This is a tricky situation. I am a workaholic by nature and balancing my personal and professional life has been a work in progress. At about 2.5 years into PB I found myself recently divorced and a single dad while working 80-90 hours a week on-site not including everything outside of that I had no time for my kid let alone myself and someone had just called in again. At that point, I made an effort to change my perspective on how to operate my business which would allow me to be a great dad and a partner to my now wife. What followed was a lot of changes and painful growth that not many people liked and was very uncomfortable for me as it was all new. What I did learn is that having a business is not about me standing in front of the oven for 100 hours a week while my life outside the doors collapses. It’s about being a good leader and teacher to the people I employ while letting them do their jobs and not taking away their ability to succeed or fail. Trusting my management to do the next right thing given they have the tools and information to do so and allowing them to be accountable has freed me from the “having to be there all the time” mentality. Would Pizza Bruno be the best version of its self if I was there everything single day seeing every pie out of the oven looking at every ingredient and finished dish? Sure. But would I be able to be a dad or husband or even take care of myself? No. A quick note, one of the books that helped me understand me and my business was “The E Myth” if you are a business owner I highly recommend it.
How do you hope to be remembered?
As not an a-hole. Well, maybe a little bit but it is only because I am passionate and driven. But on a serious note just as a guy who tried to do his best and had a decent life and hopefully made some people happy along the way.
If you were to choose a different career what would it be?
Professional thrifter! Me and my wife have a whole closet full of stuff we have purchased over the years. We have talked about opening a small thrift/vintage store to mainly clear out our closet and garage. My forte is art, clothing, dinnerware, and furniture her’s is clothes and accessories. I never thought I would be in to style or fashion as much as I am but I apparently have an eye for it and my wife certainly does. We are always on the prowl for our next “spicy” look!
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