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11 questions for Orlando Pizza Wizard Bruno Zacchini

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You can’t deny that people are great. Who doesn’t enjoy sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 questions are about. I’m going to introduce some friends I look up to and people in the community I’ve always wanted to meet. 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 raked the good reviews and rewards since it opened in 2016. So it’s no wonder he knows how to spin great cakes. Along with the great food (they have wood burning grand pianos) he created a cool place in the Hourglass District to hang out, listen to good music and chill with friends. It was fun getting to know Bruno and taking pictures of him. And as a thrifty fan (RIP Community Thrift), I’m looking forward to his later trip to this arena!

Who is your role model?

I look up to many chefs locally and around the world. Some I know personally and others only from IG. I look up to them to see how they did things and what they did right and what they did wrong. As they are mostly willing to tell you everything they screwed up and how it changed their approach or their entire outlook on life and business. These conversations are everything.

Favorite book, album, musician?

David Bowie. I would say he’s one of my favorite musicians and artists of all time as he can change and create a new version of himself while always remaining the epitome of cool. I will never tire of hearing young Americans play at Pizza Bruno or anywhere else!

What do you like to eat most in Orlando?

Loaded question. There are MANY best restaurants in Orlando, which is what makes this city great! But my “BestPplace” moves like the wind! Ha! At the moment I was hyping Reyes Mezcaleria ((Instagram | website) as we love the happy hour menu and the fire fried chickpeas when they have them. Luke’s kitchen and bar ((Instagram | website) in Maitland is so good with cook now Jason Campbell If you run the kitchen, you really can’t go wrong there. Lastly, and people will probably roast me for it, but Jet’s pizza ((Instagram | website) in Apopka is my pizzeria…. Seriously, order a four square turbo crust, it’s so damn good.

If you could mate two different species of animals, which would they be?

I never thought of it … and honestly I don’t have a good answer!

Who in your life has inspired you?

Michael Solomonov. He is the boss and owner of Zahav ((Instagram | website) and a lot of offshoots from this restaurant. I was always aware of his restaurants, but what I really knew more was his story when he opened Zahav and what he went through while he was doing it. This was very similar to what I went through when I opened Pizza Bruno. After about a year and a half I managed to take a trip to Philly to eat in Zahav (reservations are super hard to come by) and the food blew my mind! After that, I made a few more trips to Philly and always made it a point to eat in one of its places, and all of them are small offshoots of Israeli cuisine that focus on one point. Then, on a trip specifically to go to Zahav (I got reservations and then booked the flight), before we sat down, I noticed Chef Mike was buzzing around the dining room and I decided to introduce myself. After that we kept in touch and every time I landed in Philly I caught up with him at one of his places and it was crazy that this world famous chef remembered me! His work ethic and passion are always something that inspires me, along with his real humility and how damn down to earth the guy is. It is really inspiring to see a man grow out of his troubles and succeed while remaining humble and kind, and that is something I strive for.

What are you proud of

Open the doors and keep them open. The restaurant business is so tough physically, mentally and emotionally. The 5 years I’ve been open have been just one lesson at a time, from managing the financial aspects, the human aspects, to my own self-sufficiency and how the maintenance of my wellbeing needs to be brought to an important place when I am should do something good for everyone personally and professionally.

What rejuvenates you

To travel. Weekends to NYC, Philadelphia, LA or the Jersey coast. Last year has been difficult for many reasons, but one of the biggest is my inability to travel. I have some sort of internal clock that runs every 3 months and I have to leave town to distance myself from my work, routine, my dogs (yes, I love them but they are a lot of work!), And my normal eating options . A successful weekend getaway is all about snacks, naps, and thrift with my wife, Lila, to recharge our creativity without being tied to work or responsibility.

Is there anything you don’t feel compelled to do yet?

Obviously more restaurants! I love to have experiences as a restaurant, not just a restaurant, for the sake of the restaurant, see: money. A pasta-only restaurant, a restaurant with a focus on live-fire cooking and a classic slice shop are on my shortlist.

How do you reconcile your personal and professional life?

This is a difficult situation. I am a workaholic by nature and the work-life balance was in the works. When I was about 2.5 years after PB, I was recently divorced and a single father working 80-90 hours a week on-site, excluding everything else. I had no time for my child, let alone myself and someone had just called again. At that point, I made an effort to change my perspective on running my business to be a great father and partner to my wife today. What followed were many changes and painful growth that not many people liked and that were very uncomfortable for me as everything was new. What I’ve learned is that running a business isn’t about standing in front of the stove 100 hours a week while my life collapses at the doors. It’s about being a good guide and teacher to the people I employ as they do their jobs and not affect their ability to succeed or fail. My management’s confidence to do the next right thing, provided they have the tools and information to do it and the ability to be accountable, has freed me from the always-there mentality. Would Pizza Bruno be the best version of myself if I was there every day and saw every cake out of the oven, looking at every ingredient and finished dish? For sure. But could I be a father or a husband or even take care of myself? No. A quick note, one of the books that helped me understand myself and my business was “The E-Myth” If you are a business owner I highly recommend it.

How do you hope to be remembered?

There is no hole. Well, maybe a little, but only because I’m passionate and motivated. But seriously, just like a guy who was trying to do his best and had a decent life and hopefully made some people happy along the way.

If you chose another career, which one would it be?

Professional thrifter! My wife and I have a whole closet full of things we’ve bought over the years. We talked about opening a small thrift / vintage shop mainly to clear out our closet and garage. My strengths are art, clothing, dishes and furniture. She is clothes and accessories. I never thought I’d like as much style or fashion as I do, but I seem to have an eye for it and my wife certainly does. We’re always looking for our next “spicy” look!

Click here See more of Brian Carlson’s “11 Questions” columns.

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Janet Smith