Leave it to Roberto Leoci, the sizzlin’ Sicilian who specializes in homemade pastas, fresh fish and all other ingredients necessary to bring a traditional trattoria to Savannah.
Walk into Leoci’s Trattoria on a Saturday or Sunday night, or Monday or Tuesday or any day for that matter, and you’ll find the same scene: the dark, slickly appointed dining room humming from the duos and trios of diners, and the lamplit patio, lined with long tables stretching under massive umbrellas, smelling of bubbling cheese and crisping crust as the smoke from the pizza oven wafts overhead.
Everywhere discrete waiters circle patrons, blending into the dark-walled restaurant until they emerge from the tiny, open kitchen with a white plate heavy with dewy pasta or fragrant mussels. Watch the food disappear, and sooner or later you’ll see a man in chef’s whites circling the restaurant, shaking hands, and clapping people on the back. It’s Chef Roberto Leoci, and this restaurant is his baby.
Like any good Italian, Leoci grew up in the kitchen. And although that kitchen was physically in Montreal, its occupants—Leoci’s parents, aunts and uncles—were Italian immigrants of Sicilian origin. “Every day was spent dealing with food—what to make, what to eat,” Leoci remembers. “On the weekends we’d have lasagna and seafood, and every Sunday would be a celebration.” A child of one of the most food-centric cultures in the world, it’s no surprise that Leoci aspired to be a chef early on, much to his parents chagrin. “My parents said, ‘That’s not a good profession, you’re not going to make money,’” Leoci says.
To read more about Chef Roberto Leoci check out South Magazine’s August September Issue!
Tags: Italian, Roberto Leoci, Savannah, south magazine, Trattoria