By Juan Soto
Growing up in Italy, Giuseppe Manco waited impatiently for the end of the school day. He wanted to grab his backpack and run to the family’s restaurant to work in the kitchen.
He was happier cooking by the oven than doing homework at home as a teenager in Naples.
“When I was 14, I started working at the restaurant after school. I really liked it,” Manco recalled.
But he was only 6 when he made his first pizza in Naples, where pizza was born.
“It was kind of a joke because my aunt taught me how to make a pizza at the family restaurant and I made one,” Manco said.
Now, Bayside and the rest of the borough can enjoy his expertise. Pizza lovers are on fire. Manco was recently named executive pizza chef at Bayside’s Fiamma 41 restaurant, at 214-26 41st Ave.
And unlike other executives, he is a hands-on pizza maker. Foodies at the Bayside eatery are already enjoying his exquisite culinary art. His speciality, the Quattro Gusti Pizza, is already a best seller.
“It’s something different,” he said. “It’s a four-flavor pizza. It’s like having four pizzas in just one.”
Manco pointed out that customers at Fiamma 41 “like it, it’s something new in town.”
It has been a good year for the Italian-born Manco. He was crowned International Pizza Challenge Italian-Style at a Las Vegas expo in March, and this month he initiated his new culinary adventure at the Bayside establishment.
In Las Vegas, the Naples native beat about 60 competitors, some considered the best pizza chefs in the country. When he traveled to Las Vegas last year, he came in third.
“This is what I do and what I love,” Manco said. “And this is what I want to do the rest of my life.”
When a customer enjoys his pizza, he smiles. “That makes me feel very good.”
The pie maker, who worked at restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn since coming to New York City from Naples three years ago, hopes one day to open his own business, but for now, he is more than happy working at Fiamma 41.
He cooks with the heart. “I get very involved when I make pizza. I do it with passion,” he said.
And that passion has no limits. After all, in Naples, “pizza is the true religion,” he said.
“One day, I would like to open a restaurant, of course,” said Manco, who has been featured in some publications. “And I would love the restaurant, an Italian restaurant, to be in New York City.”
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.