Giani Respinto and Marco Respinto
Giani Respinto and Marco Respinto were born into their father's restaurant in Greenwich Village-Rocco's. "We grew up running around the tables. By the time we were seven-years-old, we were in the kitchen helping butcher legs of veal with the chefs. And we continued working in the restaurant until we grew up," Marco recalls.
Although the two dreamed of owning their own restaurant, eventually their culinary careers took them in different directions until they both moved to Florida, where their father, Giovanni had retired. In Florida Marco was the chef of a catering company, and Giani was the managing partner of a restaurant company. He helped start East City Grill's original, nationally acclaimed location in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with developer Innovative Food Group LLC, in which he later became a partner. He also expanded the high-end Grapevine cafe in Plantation, Fla., to include a gourmet restaurant, and worked at several other IFG holdings.
Giani's position brought him to Birmingham in 2001 to oversee the opening of East City Grill at Brookwood Village. "I fell in love with Birmingham and never left," Giani recalls. "I called my brother and asked him to come visit." Marco also loved the city, so Giovanni was then invited to visit too. Five years later, both Giani and Marco continue to both shet and satisfy Birmingham's appetite for upscale Italian cuisine.