Wine Specialist / Owner
Owner Ciro Longobardo, a native of Naples, Italy, told his family at an early age that he would one day own his own restaurant. He graduated at the top of his class from Hoteliere School in Naples, pursuing an education focused on proper service techniques as well as the finer points of wine and spirits. After graduating, he moved to Switzerland where he honed his skills at many five-star hotels, including the world-renowned Hotel Suvetta House, The Gstaad Palace, the Steigenberger, The Lucerne Palace, and the Edenroc.
After rounding out his training in restaurants and hotels in London, Germany, and Italy, he moved to the United States in 1996 and started working at Chicago’s Coco Pazzo and Coco Pazzo CaféCafé. He quickly worked his way up to become the Café’s general manager, and was responsible for all aspects of the restaurant, from hiring and training a winning employee team to purchasing the restaurant’s fine wines. His leadership, wine program, and service focus helped Coco Pazzo Café Caféachieve laudatory reviews in local media.
After five years of running Coco Pazzo CaféCafé, Ciro was hired as an Italian wine specialist for wine importer Direct Imports. He was later drafted by Empson USA, a national wine distributor to serve as a national wine specialist. In 2008 he brought together his years of restaurant management experience with his in-depth knowledge of Italian wines by joining former colleague Tony Priolo to launch Piccolo Sogno.