In my latest Creative Loafing article, I had the opportunity to talk to him about Fortunato’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria and his background opening (and selling) so many restaurants. Low-key but highkey, he’s running a small empire of restaurants.
Here’s an excerpt from the story:
“Vincent “Vinny” Fortunato has a knack for opening restaurants.
Fortunato moved to the U.S. from Italy in 1974 at age 17. Two years later, after saving up $10,000, he launched his first Italian eatery near Aberdeen Proving Ground, an Army post outside of Baltimore. In four decades, he’s opened (and sold) a total of 63 restaurants in both Maryland and Tampa Bay.
“The first one I opened was just me, then my brother, Carlos, came from Italy to help me run it. I go there whenever I go back to Baltimore. You’ll see my picture hanging on the wall there,” Fortunato says.
Locally, his first restaurant debuted in 1988 at Seminole Mall. More establishments followed with stints inside Tropicana Field, as did the popular Verducci’s Pizzeria and Trattoria in St. Pete Beach, which is still around. But Fortunato has nixed the upscale vibe of Verducci’s for his latest venture: Fortunato’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria.”
You can head over to the family-style Fortunato’s in South Pasadena or upscale Verducci’s in St. Pete Beach. To read the rest of the article and learn more about Vinny, click here. What’s your favorite kind of pizza? Are pineapples supposed to go on pizza?