Chef/Owner, Paolo Tramontano’s life journey began on Monday, July 21st, 1975. Paolo was born to Umberto and Maria in a quaint township called Aversa. Aversa, to those who don’t know, is in the Province of Caserta in Campania and approximately 10 miles north of Naples, Italy.
At an early age of 5 Paolo already started to show his interest in food and cooking by helping his mother in the kitchen for Sunday dinners. Over the years Paolo’s love for food grew and would become his passion.
When ready, Paolo headed for culinary school or “Istituto Culinario” where he would have the opportunity to intern, if you will, in local restaurants, working under the tutelage of skilled chefs where he could learn different techniques and a variety of regional fare.
At the age of 18, upon graduating and earning his culinary degree, Paolo served 1 year in the military as a chef in the NATO.
Paolo then decided to explore his way North where his eagerness to learn and live the “chef” life grew.
In Sardenia Paolo worked at “Grazie Deledda” which has 3 Stars Michelin Award. Then, he was on to Rome where he had the privilege of working in a few well know restaurants called “Saint Eustachio,” “The Majestic Hotel” and “Parco di Principi.” He then ventured to Tuscany where he chefed at the 5 star, “Cala del Porto Hotel”in Punta Ala.
Paolo’s desire to learn all he could about cooking heightened as he gained knowledge. Realizing this he wanted to experience Europe so Paolo moved to Barcelona, Spain where he worked for 1 1/12 years at the renowned “Piccola Italia.” While in Spain he also had the opportunity to work with and cook for the Italian Soccer team who happen to be in Spain at the time for the European Cup Final.
At the ripe age of 26, Paolo got an invitation to go with a friend, on holiday to New York City where he fell in love and found his new culinary home at “MOMA,” The Museum of Modern Art.” He was there for two years until the museum had to undergo renovations. At that time, Paolo along with the owners of MOMA had plans of their own and moved to South Beach in Miami to open an Italian Restaurant called “Vela Ristorante.”
Call it fate or destiny but in early 2002, Paolo found his way to Nashville, TN where he now would call his home.
Once landing in Nashville Paolo sent out his extensive and impressive resume to several restaurants but there were few Italian restaurants and none of which were looking for a Chef.
Valentino’s Ristorante, however, chose to gamble on Paolo and promised him a position as a bus boy and should a chef position become available they would consider him as a candidate. In need of a job, Paolo accepted the position and determined to become chef. With his broken English improving he quickly moved up to serve then after two years he worked his way into the kitchen where he became Valentino’s Executive Chef. Paolo put his Italian touch and all the knowledge he gained in Europe by recreating menus and working in good symphony with his bosses Ron & Kevin. They worked in such good symphony that the three would become partners.
In January, 2010, Paolo and his partners collaborated and with Paolo’s vision, he went back to his roots and they worked together to open the first Neapolitan Style Pizzeria in Nashville. They immediately fell in love with Edgehill Villiage and it’s ambient courtyard which made Paolo feel like he was back home with his family eating and drinking “vino con le pesche” ahhh…la dolce vita. Hence, Bella Napoli was born and opened in August 2010.
Today, Paolo is the sole owner of Bella Napoli Pizzeria and very proud of the support received by Nashville and it’s acceptance of his culture and style of cuisine.