At Work With Gianluca Corso

at-work-with-gianluca-corsoFine: Where were you born, where did you grow up? What was your hometown like? How big was your family?
Gianluca: I grew up in a small town called Castelsardo, on the island of Sardinia. It is like an old medieval town built around a 900 year old castle, at the top of a big hill overlooking the sea and harbor. There are about 6000 people living there and 170 of them are my relatives! (Big Laugh) In my family there are 6 kids, 3 brothers and 3 sisters.
Fine: What special food items is your hometown known for?
Gianluca: Sardinia is known for its Seafood, Roast Pig, special homemade pasta called “Il Malloreddus”, and its wine called “Cannonau di Sardegna (Argiolas)” Our wine was featured on the Dr. Oz show recently because it is the richest grape in anti-oxidants. I am the #1 seller of this wine in Florida and the #3 seller in the United States.
Fine: In your professional work life, did you start in the restaurant business or another type of business? How did you first get into the
restaurant business and where was that?
Gianluca: I left Sardinia when I was 22 years old and went to London. I grew up in the restaurant business and my whole family is in the restaurant business. I have worked and lived in London, Spain (Madrid), San Francisco, and Naples, FL. When I was 27 years old, I was the General Manager of 3 restaurants in San Francisco and had 82 employees under me. The restaurants there were Steps of Rome, Figaro, and Trattoria Steps of Rome.
Fine: When did you first move here to Naples? What made you want to make Naples your home?
Gianluca: I first moved to Naples in October of 2003, and began working for the restaurant “Bellini” on 5th Ave as a waiter. What made me want to live here? I fell in Love!! In January of 2004 at Bellini I noticed a girl who had walked in with some of her friends. I said to myself, “I have to go out with her tonight!” I asked to take care of her table and by the end of the night I had her phone number and her name, Eva. In May of 2004, I drove to San Francisco and stayed there for 6 months. I then went back to Italy for a little while, and then came back to San Francisco. It was difficult dating like that, but we made it work and arranged for trips to meet each other. It is a true love story that was meant to be!
Fine: When did you open Cosmos? What was the evolution of Cosmos from the start to where it is today?
Gianluca: Cosmos was an existing restaurant here started by a couple from New York. It was open for two years before I bought it in January of 2008. It was very small and could only hold about 40 people at a time, but it was home!
• March of 2008, voted the Top Best 5 Pizzas in Naples by the Naples
Daily News
• May of 2008, we were on the 1st page of the Naples Daily News
about the recession and how we were able to keep our prices low?
My answer: “We make everything from scratch here in the restaurant
so we can keep our prices competitive.”
• July/August of 2008, Gulfshore Life voted us the Best Pizza in Naples
• October of 2008, the chef from Bellagio, Leonardo Rubio, came to
us to be our chef
• Added patio seating in 2009
• Added 2nd Room in 2010
• Added Deli room in 2011
• Deli became part of the restaurant seating in 2012
When we started, we had 5 people working at Cosmos: Me, Leonardo the chef, Eva my wife, Tino, and Suzanna – all of whom are still here at Cosmos! Now we have 28 employees!
Fine: What do you feel are the secrets to your success here?
• First would be our family recipes and our food
• Our fresh ingredients – we use only the freshest, highest quality
• Our teamwork and how we take care of our customers
• We are very family oriented in how we interact with each other and
our customers – this is our home and we want our customers to feel
like they are at home as well!
• To be here – I am here from early in the morning until very late at night, I am always here along with my wife
One thing that bothers me the most is if I did not shake hands with a customer and say thank you before they leave – that really bothers me if I missed doing that with someone!
at-work-with-gianluca-corso1Fine: Do you have some secret family recipes on the menu? What are some of your favorite menu items?
Gianluca: Our Tomato Sauce, Pizza, and Homemade Pasta – all of it is from my Mother’s kitchen! We use the very best cheese and the best tomatoes, which is a big secret! With all of our recipes, there is no measuring; it is all made by taste and consistency. We are really known for our pizza and our soups – our Cream of Mushroom soup is one of our specialties, and when we make it, the entire pot of soup is gone in 60 seconds!
Fine: Are there any items on your menu that are ordered more than others – Favorite customer items?
Gianluca: Pizza is the #1 item. Also, the Eggplant, Lasagna, Fettuccini, and our Osso Bucco. The Osso Bucco is very good!
Fine: You close Cosmos during the summer for a bit. How long is Cosmos closed and where do you go?
Gianluca: We close for 1 – 1 ½ months to go back to Sardinia. I don’t have any of my family members here so I go back with my wife to spend some time with my family.
Fine: I have heard that the restaurant business is 24/7, every day – How many hours do you work per week?
Gianluca: I work 84 hours per week in the restaurant plus the hours I spend doing paperwork outside of my restaurant hours. I come in at 8 AM and leave around 11:30 PM every day, 7 days a week. I put in a lot of hours but I love what I do!
Fine: What are some of your hobbies? What do you like to do outside of the restaurant?
Gianluca: I like to go fishing, biking and spend time with family. I am a social “people-person.”
Fine: What are some family activities that you like to do here?
Gianluca: On Sundays, my wife and I have big gatherings of people over to our house from about 2 – 8 PM. We cook for them and we all hang out and have a good time.
Fine: You are definitely an Entrepreneur in many aspects – you have done some real estate projects here as well, what are those projects?
Gianluca: I invested in real estate by purchasing the entire strip mall where Cosmos Restaurant is located. I have 4 great businesses as tenants: Clive Christian Cabinet Shop, Gator Music, Alert, and Pristine Fine Dry Cleaning. I am also building an Old Florida style home as a project and we are very excited!
Fine: Do you have any future plans with Cosmos Restaurant?
Gianluca: I would like to create a pizza take-out and delivery business here at Cosmos; that is the next step.
Fine: What rewards you the most in life?
Gianluca: To have a wonderful relationship with my wife and to meet and get to know all the fantastic people here in Naples who come into my restaurant! I am away from my family, in a different country, so I have my wife who I have as my partner in life, and I have my customers who I feel are like my family as well! I did go through the long process to become a citizen of the United States – it took a long time but I am very excited that I am officially a citizen here!
Fine: What advice could you give to other business owners and entrepreneurs?
Gianluca: Put your time in and love what you do – I would say to “Fall in love with what you do!”
Fine: Do you have a favorite local charity?
Gianluca: We support several local charities, such as Do The Right Thing Program, The Shelter for Abused Women and Children, Naples Pathway Coalition and Police Unity Tour.
Cosmos Italian Cafe & Pizzeria
A Slice of Italy in the Heart of Naples
536 Tamiami Trail North, Naples, FL 34102

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