Milan native Riccardo Ullio has made a name for himself in Atlantaâ€™s restaurant scene, but he didnâ€™t start out intending to be a chef. He had his eye set on engineering, with an undergrad degree from Georgia Tech in Civil Engineering and a masterâ€™s in Environmental Engineering.
To support himself in school, he worked in restaurants â€” and the bug bit him. He opened his first restaurant in 1994, then traveled throughout his homeland to study regional Italian cuisine. He opened Sotto Sotto in 1999, followed by Fritti in 2000. The two restaurants have garnered numerous awards, including Restaurant of the Year by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Fritti is also one of only 35 restaurants in the country to be certified by the Verace Pizza Napolentana Association for serving authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas.
Ullioâ€™s since become interested in regional Mexican cuisine and opened Escorpion, a tequila bar and cantina, in Midtown Atlanta this past May.
â€œI like the creative aspect of being a restaurateur: starting from a concept to finding a location, then working through the process of the architecture, build out and dÃ©cor; creating a memorable menu; hiring the right people to enhance your vision and finally seeing all this realized on opening night,â€ Ullio says. â€œItâ€™s very rewarding to see your vision come to life and to provide people with a new way to enjoy their life.â€
Ullio was recently recognized by the Georgia Restaurant Association as a GRACE Awards Restaurateur of the Year finalist.
(Photo courtesy of Lou Freeman)