FROM WINE FESTIVAL CHEF TO DYNASTY RESTAURATEUR

“Wine is a very, very important part of food culture,” Fabrizio Aielli, chef-owner of five Florida restaurants, says. “Being from Italy, wine is the way we grew up. I cannot imagine having dinner without wine. A glass of wine emphasizes your palate and just makes you happy.”

As important as wine itself is to Fabrizio’s life and restaurant empire, the Naples Winter Wine Festival (NWWF) played a crucial role in the trajectory of his career. He was running an A-list Washington, D.C., restaurant when he was invited in 2005 as a celebrity chef for the fifth annual festival.

He and his wife Ingrid, who is also his business partner, had been vacationing in Naples since 2001. “That time, with the wine festival, we were down here not for vacation but for work, and that’s when the idea came to my mind to open a restaurant,” he says with his infectious, trademark smile.