Recently given a nod from Bon Appétit for their Bay Area-themed wallpaper, San Francisco restaurant Fiorella is also getting acclaims for their pizza and Italian classics. They say that you eat with the eyes first, and Fiorella’s interior had us positively ravenous by the time our food arrived. Which only confirmed that Fiorella is no average pizza shop. We talked to co-owners Boris Nemchenok and Brandon Gillis and they are sharing a tour of Fiorella in the slideshow.
How did the two of you meet and what inspired you to open Fiorella?
Boris: I was looking for someone to help revamp my other restaurant Uva Enoteca’s menu and our mutual friend Jim Kennedy suggested Brandon. We clicked immediately and had the same vision for food and business. I grew up in the Richmond district, so when Brandon suggested doing something in that area (because he now lives there) it was a no brainer.
Brandon: We met through a mutual friend Jim Kennedy. I just moved out here from NYC after disengaging from the management team at Bark. Uva Enoteca was in need of some consulting and the commitment seemed doable as I was pretty brunt out from my experience at Bark. From there, Boris and I pretty much hit it off in terms of a similar food vision for Uva. We definitely ran in the same food circles in NYC and I think a lot of that sensibility juts synced. Plus, Boris is really good person. In terms of inspiration, I can’t say there was anything specific. I know that there was a certain style of food that I enjoyed cooking & Boris enjoyed creating wine programs around. From there, it was really a matter of where? For restaurants that inspire us: Delfina, La Ciccia, Franny’s, Lupa in NYC, Romans in Brooklyn, Una Pizza Nepoletana.
You both have been involved with well-known NYC pizzerias. How did that inform the creation of Fiorella?
Boris: I worked at Otto Enoteca in NYC and Brandon worked at Franny’s in Brooklyn so we had a very strong background and understanding of what type of Pizzeria we wanted. I think our experiences in New York really helped inform our vision.
Brandon: For me Franny’s was informative on what it takes to run a great restaurant, the benefits of being a pioneer in an underserved neighborhood, and how to balance all of this while creating a great work environment. There, it was less about deign and all about the food and service.
The space is gorgeous (and super fun!) What inspired the design of Fiorella?
Brandon: Boris and I had the food pretty well mapped out before we opened. The larger challenge was creating a distinctive experience on a shoestring budget. Our designer, Melinda Turner, was instrumental in creating the look and feel of Fiorella. Boris and I both new we wanted something modern, but not cliché, and something that would be appealing to the neighborhood.
Boris: Fiorella is a neighborhood restaurant – and the key word is the neighborhood. We really wanted to keep it casual and friendly, but also modern and bring a little bit of a different style to the neighborhood. Melinda Turner was huge in helping to visually execute what we knew we wanted Fiorella to be. She really saw our vision and took it to another level.
Last, the most important questions- favorite pizza topping?
Boris: Egg, arugula and tomato sauce
Brandon: Pickled hot peppers. If I had my way, I’d put them on everything.