Giacomo Pizzigoni is the co-founder of Ambrogio15 Restaurant Group, which helped bring the world of Italian cuisine to San Diego. Since 2016, Pizzigoni has opened five other locations of Ambrogio15, including outposts in Del Mar and Little Italy and a fine-dining concept, Ambrogio by Acquerello, in La Jolla. Learn about Giacomo Pizzigoni…
Follow at: @giacomopizzigoni
Hometown: Milano, Italy
First job: F&B Manager at Vigilucci’s Restaurant Group
Favorite ways to spend your free time in CA: There’s nothing I love more than walking around the beautiful neighborhood of Birdrock with my wife, Leticia, and my dog, Pipa. Although I don’t surf, I love watching the ocean and the incredible sunsets, it gives me a sense of peace. I also enjoy taking our convertible car and driving top down around the city and sometimes all the way up to OC or LA – it always feels like a movie when we go up there.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: My first biggest accomplishment that I can think of was opening five restaurants in five years, in a foreign country and with a very limited budget. However, if I think about it, I’d say my biggest accomplishment was to have more than 80 friends travel all the way from Italy and San Diego to Brazil for my wedding. Having all my friends commit to such a long and expensive trip just to be there to celebrate me and my wife made me feel like I really did something right in my life
The biggest obstacle you overcame: Getting the first Ambrogio15 open. We knew nothing about opening a restaurant, let alone in a new country. We had to take a massive leap of faith because we didn’t know if we were going to get a visa until the very end. In fact, to get an investor visa and live and operate a business in the US, you need to first commit all your money, and you have no certainty whatsoever you will get it. That was really scary.
Someone who inspires you and why: My favorite soccer player of all time, Filippo Inzaghi. Although he wasn’t gifted with crazy skills or an athletic body, he had so much drive, passion and heart that he became the top scorer of all time in the European Champions League. That was a great example of how determination can take you anywhere you want, no matter what.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Find something you love, pursue your dreams, and you will feel like you never worked a day in your life.
Favorite quote: “If you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business.” —Ray Kroc
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I used to eat only pasta with butter and veal Milanese with fries, until the age of 21! I hated going to restaurants unless they were not Italian. And now I love everything, from Japanese cuisine to Brazilian cuisine, and I enjoy trying unique dishes like puffer fish or sweetbreads. People that have known me for a long time still can’t believe it (including my parents).
What makes someone fabulous: Having a big heart, putting others ahead of yourself, enjoying seeing them achieve their dreams more than you enjoy achieving them yourself.