Steven Gallo, Chef and Co-owner of Galli Restaurant, starts his day early – making sure his guys are preparing the red sauce in accordance with his ancestor's recipe.
The recipe originated in Sicily, where his family has been cooking Italian comfort food for generations. Steven started in the restaurant business as a young kid, working every job in his family's restaurants - from dishwasher, busboy, server, bartender and manager.
Today, Steven's focus is exclusively on Galli Restaurant, and customers will see him on the floor virtually every day, serving up his delicious Italian comfort food.
How did you get into the Culinary industry?
Against my parents wishes, I started at 10 years old mopping floors and washing dishes in my parents Italian restaurant. Over the years they let me do everything in the restaurant. From prep to cooking to bartending to doing payroll, which I hated! But I was exposed to everything during my childhood and I always knew that I would spend my life in the kitchen, in a restaurant..
Tell us about Galli. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the restaurant?
Galli is the genesis of years and years of planning - mostly in my head. By watching and learning from my family I was able to envision a place where fresh ingredients and classic Italian comfort food dishes are presented in a new, fresh way.
What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have attributed to Galli's success?
From day one we never embraced gimmicks or trendy marketing strategies. We relied on word of mouth, social media of course but day-to-day we believe the strongest marketing comes from delivering fresh, tasty food in an inviting environment.
What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?
Fast-casual is obviously something you are hearing a lot about these days. In an effort to deliver some-what of a fast-casual experience, we introduced a $10 pasta lunch special in the Lower East Side location and we partner with Seamless, Delivery.com and recently Postmates which has expanded our delivery reach.
Your greatest success as Proprietor of Galli? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?
Greatest success at Galli has to be growth of our lunch business in Soho. We curated a great clientele and it really has become a downtown power-lunch place of sorts.
Most Difficult Moment was definitely Hurricane Sandy in the Fall of 2012 right after we opened. We lost a lot of inventory and we were closed for about 5 days and financially it really set us back - especially so close to after we had just opened. But we were able to bounce back pretty quickly all things considered.
Your advice to an aspiring restauranteur?
Work hard and learn from the best...
Describe the ideal experience at Galli.
Start with a Lansky from the bar and the Chicken Parm Sliders. Add the Kale Salad and then maybe the Salsicia Pasta. Finish with the Tiramisu -- my mother's recipe, and sooooo good.
Most popular dishes and your favorites?
Most Popular: Chicken Parm, Penne a la Vodka, Kale Salad with Grilled Chicken
Favorite: Mad Calamari and Chicken Parm Hero
How do you motivate your employees?
By working hard myself. Nothing better than showing your employees how to work than by rolling up your sleeves and leading by example.
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
Pasta Pomodoro with fresh basil and Monkey Shoulder Scotch served with one ice cube
What literature is on your bed stand?
None. By the time I hit my bed my eyes are closed!
Role model - business and personal?
My father...for both.
Right now I would have to say my tea cup yorkie puppy named Fifty.
Favorite travel destination?
I was just recently in Columbia with my wife who was born there and I have to say that is a beautiful country and currently my favorite destination.
What's next for Galli?
We are looking at some additional locations in Manhattan to expand the Galli brand....I would be surprised if we don't open a third location by early 2016.