Gruppo Italiano has successfully fostered the appreciation of Italian Cuisine in the United States since its inception in 1979
The Gruppo Italiano (GI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering genuine Italian products and the culinary culture through education; promoting a constant flow of information among member restaurants, producers, importers, and distributors of authentic Italian products, with the press, culinary schools, and the general public with a serious passion for authentic Italian food and wine.
Gruppo Italiano (GI) was officially formed in 2017, as an evolution from the original Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani (GRI), a non-profit association founded in 1979 to increase the awareness of authentic Italian cuisine and to promote Italian cuisine’s image through member restaurants, culinary scholarships and events.
Throughout it’s history, GRI made great strides in enhancing the perception of and passion for Italian food and wine throughout the hospitality industry in the United States, and now, Gruppo Italiano begins a new era in developing a stronger presence of authentic Italian culinary products and services in the United States.
The GI membership body consists of two segments reflective of the Italian restaurant industry itself: Trade/Journalists(influential Italian restaurateurs, distributors, importers, and other prominent business and cultural leaders), and enthusiastic and passionate members of the General Public, and continues to be one of the most respected culinary and cultural organizations in the country!
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Gianfranco Sorrentino, President
Managing Partner of Il Gattopardo Group
Originally from Naples, Italy, owner Gianfranco Sorrentino carries over 30 years of experience in restaurant management, some of these include Quisisana Hotel in Capri, Dorchester Hotel in London, Four Seasons Hotel in Tokyo, Bice Restaurant in New York, Sette MoMA Restaurant at The Museum of Modern Art of New York, Union Bar and Grill in Great Barrington, MA, Mozzarella & Vino, and The Leopard at des Artistes, located in the New York landmark Hotel des Artistes.
Salvino Nasello, Vice President
Partner, Tradizione Imports
Salvino Nasello founded Tradizione Imports in 2010 with Marco Irato – his friend also of Sicilian origin. The two share the same passion for Italian wines, and Tradizione Imports’ goal is to introduce high quality Italian wines in the American market.”
Gennaro D’alessio, Board Member
President, C&D Food Imports
Gennaro D’Alessio was born and raised in Naples, Italy. He graduated from Federico II with a a Doctorate in Civil Engineering. After over 20 years in the construction and commercial real estate estate businesses, Gennaro was ready for a something new and different. He turned his love of food food and fascination with the United States into a new venture. In 1998 he founded C & D Food Food Imports Inc. Gennaro represents varied Italian food products with the majority of them amongst amongst the finest available in the United States. He sells his top quality brands to many of the best best restaurants and specialty food markets in the New York metro area.
Lisa Sasson, Board Member
Associate Dean of Global Affairs and Experiential Learning and Clinical Professor at New York University’s Department of Nutrition and Food Studies
In this role, Lisa directs the graduate dietetic internship and NYU’s study abroad in Tuscany, Italy: It’s Cuisine, and the Mediterranean Diet and The study abroad program in Tel Aviv: Exploring Israel through Food, Nutrition and Culture. She also teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses and works with the NYU dental faculty to advance nutrition and oral health in the dental curriculum. In addition to her work at NYU, Lisa counsels private clients in healthy eating and weight management. She is a nutrition consultant to public affairs at Nickelodeon and frequent commentator in the media.
Jordan Frosolone, Board Member
Executive Chef Partner, The Leopard at des Artistes
Born and raised in Chicago, moved to Italy in 2002 and worked in restaurants in both Spoleto and Florence. With refined skills and deeper culinary aptitude, Jordan moved back to the United States in 2003 and spent one year with the culinary team at Bouley before joining Marco Canora at Hearth as a line cook. Showing great promise and genuine talent, Jordan was promoted to Chef de Cuisine in 2006 and remained there until 2011 before joining the team at August as Executive Chef. Not long after, Jordan left the pass to join David Chang’s Momofuku group as Director of Culinary Operations. He spent the next two years traveling throughout New York and Canada overseeing culinary programming and opening three new restaurants in Toronto. Feeling a pull back to the kitchen, Jordan left Momofuku in 2014 to become Executive Chef at Sessanta in Soho. Jordan was the Executive Chef at 10 Corso Como Restaurant in New York City prior to becoming the Executive Chef and partner of the Leopard at Des Artistes in 2020. In 2011 Jordan founded Belsito Gruppo, this organization has been working with farmers, producers, and travel agencies teaching cooking classes and hosting culinary tours in the Tuscany, Puglia and Sicily regions of Italy.
Iacopo di Teodoro, Board Member
Partner, Artisanal Cellars
Iacopo’s first step into the wine business was a Slow Food course in wine tasting followed by a Sommelier Degree in Tuscany: a perfect excuse to start to follow journalists and wander with them in the Italian countryside. He then did production cost analysis for a Tuscan winery while he was studying Economics at the University of Pisa, which easily turned into an excuse to work in the vineyards and in the cellar. After a quick experience in California, he returned to Italy where he managed the sales of a group of wineries (Poggio Gagliardo and its sister wineries), and wrote articles on corrieredelvino.it. In January 2006 he joined Vignaioli Selection in NYC, where he spent almost 10 years as Sales Manager, and then as Vice President. It’s during his time at Vignaioli that he became friends with Rafael and Winthrop of Artisanal Cellars, and after spending a summer scouting Artisanal-minded wineries in every corner of the Italian peninsula, he joined the Artisanal team, becoming a partner in 2015.
David Ernst, Director of Operations
Mr. Ernst has spent over four decades in the field of international brand and organizational management: creating, marketing, and producing events. Since 2017, he has been Director of Operations for GRUPPO ITALIANO (GI) assisting in broadening the GI brand in New York City and nationally. He co-produces the highly successful seminar/webinar series, Italian Table Talks, among other GI educational and promotional projects. Prior to 2017, he worked three years with Colangelo & Partners Public Relations as membership coordinator for GRI (predecessor to GI). As an independent consultant in New York City, Mr. Ernst also consults The Japanese Chamber of Commerce and industry of New York (JCCI) and The Leo House Catholic Guesthouse. Mr. Ernst lived in Japan for twenty years (1976-1996), with seven of those years (1988-1996) working for Dentsu, Inc., the largest single advertising agency in the world. He was based in the Dentsu, Inc. Tokyo Headquarters as one of the agency’s first foreign account executives assigned to their highly-touted international service divisions servicing Fortune 500 clients such as Nestle, Coca-Cola, Philip Morris, United Airlines, Warner Bros., Japan Unilever, MacDonald’s, and American Express. Mr. Ernst received his BA Degree in Speech Communications and an MA Degree in Education from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo. He furthered his professional development with studies at Tokyo’s Sophia University as well as at Harvard University.
Paula Bolla-Sorrentino, Creative Director
Director of Operations at Il Gattopardo Group
Brazilian born and raised, of Italian father from Veneto, PAULA is passionate for art, design, food and Italian culture. With fashion and design background, she had the opportunity of traveling around the world with top designers, as well as worked in one of the most prestigious design firms of New York, Pentagram Design, as Graphic Designer. Graduated from FIT, but with the hospitality industry in her heart, Paula runs all visual and organizational aspects of the company, from back of the house and office operations, to the front of the house, art direction, florals and graphic design – making sure that guests are not only exposed to a wonderful gastronomical event on the table, but to a whole sensorial experience.
Reid A. Rosen, Esq., Legal Council
Solo practitioner since 1992 and formerly partner in the law firm Zimmer, Victor & Bernstein, P.C.
Almost 40 years of experience counseling a wide variety of businesses businesses (including public and private entities as well as individuals) with an emphasis on restaurants, real estate and and real estate leases, structuring of transactions (including buy-sell agreements, limited liability liability companies, partnerships and corporations) as well as general business and tax matters. matter. Experience includes negotiating and structuring transactions in Tokyo, Japan, Sydney, Australia and and Glasgow, Scotland and many locations throughout the United States.
Nicola Tegoni, Immigration Council
Partner at Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller LLP
Nicola Tegoni is co-chair of Dunnington’s Italy desk practice group and a member of the immigration, international, employment, Latin America desk and France desk practice groups. His practice is exclusive to U.S. Immigration Law. Mr. Tegoni represents and counsels companies and individual clients in business immigration, family immigration, citizenship, removal defense, federal court litigation, and asylum. He is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the preeminent national bar association of attorneys who practice and teach Immigration Law.
Simona Gazzaniga, Media and Sponsorship Support
Founder of SDG Marketing Inc.
Simona Gazzaniga has developed a long experience in marketing since her degree in Economics. After a time spent in managing the sponsorships of the Skiing World Cup, she started working in McArthurGlen and promoted the largest Designer Outlet in Europe. She cooperated in the opening of the other 4 Italian shopping villages and was then appointed as Southern Europe Region Tourism Manager with the aim to drive international visitors. She permanently moved to New York City a few years ago, starting a consulting career in promoting Italian products/companies across the United States.
Niccolo Lorimer, Counsel of Italy Affairs
Born and raised in Florence, Niccolo Lorimer is the founder and CEO of Noble Harvest LLC in the U.S. and of USA Export, Srl in Italy. With a rich background in real estate, art dealing, and business, Niccolo developed a unique approach to the American market, honing his skills especially in the complex world of wine. With a strong focus on marketing and sales, Noble Harvest is the reference point for many institutions (such as the Italian Trade Commission, Fancy Food Shows, OCM initiatives, Italian Consortiums, Chambers of Commerce and more) for logistics and compliance. Niccolo is on the Board of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce of Houston, TX and an Advisor for the prestigious Wine Hunter, part of the Merano Wine Festival in Merano, Italy.
Daniela Puglielli, Public Relation Counsel
Daniela Puglielli, principal of Accent PR, has extensive experience in the planning, execution and promotion of special events, branding operations, international partnerships and media relations. She holds a Masters Degree in Communications from the University of Turin (Turin, Italy) and a Masters Degree in Performing Arts from the Conservatorio di Musica (Pescara, Italy). She is a founding member of the Museo dell’Emigrazione Italiana in Jersey City (NJ), former Director of the Global Business Roundtable (NYC), former Executive Director of The Center for Italian & Italian-American Culture (NJ), and a member of the Fulbright Association of New Jersey. More recently, she is among the founding members of the Association Gamma Donna (Turin, Italy) and the producer of the Mediterranean Diet Roundtable, a new format dedicated to the promotion of Mediterranean products on American tables. Among many recognitions, Daniela is the recipient of the Dean Martin Award from Pescara, her hometown in Italy.
Elias Li, IT Support
Founder of Fyllan – Elias Li is the founder/CEO of Fyllan. He loves to eat but hates to wait. Fyllan is an on-demand mobile marketplace that enables local restaurants to monetize their time by leveraging dynamic pricing. Fyllan is dedicated to the mission of helping restaurant operators increase their margins while socially distancing their customers in order to be more sustainable and viable for the future.
Enrico Carducci of CIRCO MASSIMO - Miami FL
Circo Massimo Entertainment (CME) is a group of professionals specialized in event technology and media production. Born in 2008, we have served a large number of CORPORATE, SOCIAL and CULTURALevents, from simple private parties to brand unveilings and large sport events with complex logistics. Depending on the nature of the production, we assemble a specialized team that can bring value to the project and execute it at its best. We believe that we can Exceed Expectations by thinking outside the box and seeking the highest level of quality through a combination of creativity, design, and technology
Tricia Barry of ROMANO IMPORTS - CHICAGO, IL
Romano Imports is a new venture built on the tradition of Romano Brothers, a wine and spirits distributor that served the Midwest for more than 100 years. After a hiatus, the family is back in the specialty wine business, this time as the importers of new wines including, Bariano Prosecco, Trovati, and Seven Veils. Leveraging their family and business contacts garnered over the generations, Romano Imports are both creating their own brands in partnership with exceptional wineries as well as importing unique wines into the US market.
Michael Young of TAUB FAMILY SELECTIONS - LOS ANGELES, CA
Michael has worked in many of the top Italian kitchens of Los Angeles including Valentino, Il Grano and Drago. Michael served as a Chef Instructor at the Le Cordon Bleu program in Pasadena, where he taught International Cuisine and helped run the school restaurant. He also served as a point person for guest chefs from Italy and France. “The highlight of my teaching experience was to work side by side with my mentor and close friend Daniel Rossi (former chef of Citrus).” Michael Young, most recently was the Executive Chef/Owner of Ombra Ristorante in Studio City, where he was given two stars by Irene Virbila, legendary food critic of the Los Angeles Times. Michael saw this as an opportunity to do what he does and enjoys best–cooking in a smaller neighborhood restaurant setting. “I enjoy the personal relationships, the opportunity to personalize the experience to the client and cook from the heart.” Irene Virbila described Michael’s cuisine as “innovative Italian dining”. “A chef with initiative and spark.” “Young is a real worker”. Currently Michael manages the State of California for Taub Family Imports, an extensive Imported wine portfolio, formerly Palm Bay International. It is a “collision of two loves”. Michael is able to blend his expertise of the restaurant world with his passion of Italian wines.
Riccardo Longo of GRAN CAFFÉ L’AQUILA - PHILADELPHIA, PA
Gran Caffé L’Aquila in Philadelphia is an Italian immersion project by Riccardo Longo & Italian Gelato Champion Stefano Biasini which is a replica of the original destroyed in the tragic earthquake of 2009. In addition to the authentic Italian bar, torrefazione & gelato laboratory, the Philadelphia version has added a restaurant celebrating the 20 regions of Italy, a wine spectator awarded Italian wine list, pasticceria, an Italian language & culture school, Seria A soccer program, and a luxury Italian specilaty market celebrating products of Italian excellence. Among the awards the project has won include: Gambero Rosso Restaurant Award of Excellence, Gambero Rosso “3 chicci” coffee, “Best of Philly” Italian restaurant & Gelato, Best Restaurant in Philadelphia (Philadelphia Conceirge association) , Italy-America Society “Italian Culture Award”, Italian-American Business Council: International project of the year, Eccelenze Italiane 2019.
DEAN NOLE of CAFÉ CANOLE - Utica, NY
“Legendary” Local brothers, Jason and Dean Nole are amongst Central New York’s most talked about and critically acclaimed chefs. Since 1996, Café CaNole has been recognized and has received awards for its delicious one-of-a-kind creations. The Nole brothers developed a passion for fine cuisine that has taken them around the world. Jason and Dean attended the Culinary Institute of America and afterwards worked in Boston, New York City, Italy and Japan. When the brothers reunited, they opened Café CaNole. The east Utica Italian Pastry shop served gelatos, pastries and cakes along with Mediterranean cuisine. Café CaNole Inc. soon grew toa a side-by-side restaurant and bakery where their focus has been on developing more creations that have been delighting Central New Yorkers.