Home of the ‘American Dream’

By Chris Gomez | Little Italy News

San Diego’s Little Italy is the largest Little Italy community in the nation and has been reviving over the last 20 years under the leadership of the nonprofit organization, the Little Italy Association.

The Little Italy neighborhood has turned multiple Italian’s vision of an “American Dream” into a beautiful reality. In the last 12 years, there’s been over 40 restaurants and food establishments opened in the neighborhood, with half of those opened by Italian immigrants.

Presenting the perfect opportunity for first-generation business owners to start a successful business in San Diego, the Little Italy community creates a sense of family and a cultural environment with Italian and European influences throughout its 48 square-blocks.

The Little Italy Association has built a model of an urban community that supports all of its local businesses — it’s a way for Italians to feel like they are a part of Italy, but out of Italy and in a stable environment where opportunities are endless and visibility to the world is possible.

Front of the house manager, Flavio Piromallo (center), is flanked by Civico 1845 owners Pietro (left) and Dario Gallo (Courtesy Olive PR)

Italian business owners abound, like Daniel Moceri (third generation) of Filippi’s Pizza Grotto; Onofrio and Jack Pecoraro (second generation) with Pecoraro Painting; Guido Nistri (first generation) of Monello and Bencotto restaurants; Christopher Antinucci (first generation) of NaPizza; and Antonino Mastellone (first generation), owner of Buon Appetito; are all living examples of individuals and families who made the move from the boot-shaped country to Little Italy San Diego, to live out their American Dream.

Businesses in Little Italy are a family affair! The brother-owner duo from Cosenza, Italy — Dario and Pietro Gallo (first generation) — moved to San Diego’s Little Italy in 2013 with a vision to create Civico 1845.

The Gallo brothers focus on paying homage to their southern Italian roots and reflecting on what is being served in Italy today using locally-grown products and scratch-made pasta, bread and cheeses.

Pappalecco — the local Italian coffee, pastry and dining destination — is also owned by a brother-duo, Francesco and Lorenzo Bucci (first generation) from Pisa, Italy.

They pride their menu on being authentically Tuscan, using imported Tuscan ingredients in all pastries, breads and pizza dough.

Guido Nistri and Valentina Di Pietro, owners of Bencotto. (Courtesy Olive PR)

It’s not just brothers that team up in Little Italy to start their business, but couples too!

Guido Nistri and Valentina Di Pietro are an Italian couple that came from Milan to follow their dream of opening up a restaurant in the neighborhood with executive chef and co-founder, Fabrizio Cavallini from Emilia Romagna, Italy.

The restaurant, Bencotto, brings artisan Italian eats to San Diego, including handmade pasta and desserts. They’ve been so successful, they also opened Monello right next door!

Owners of NaPizza, Christopher Antinucci and partner Giulia Colmignoli, both came from Rome together in 2012 to create a Roman style street pizza restaurant.

Christopher wanted to create a place where all the Italians would come and people could experience traditional Roman pizza, which is very different from American pizza.

Thanks to all of these Italians in search of a dream, our Little Italy neighborhood is full of authentic flavors and the culture of Italy and remains a hub for first-generation Italian business owners.

For more information about the businesses in Little Italy visit or follow the neighborhood on Instagram and Twitter @LittleItalySD and Facebook/San Diego Little Italy.

—Christopher Gomez has been Little Italy’s district manager since 2000. Reach him at

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