How did a young man of Greek heritage born in the U.S. become passionate about pizzas made in wood-fired ovens? The first sparks ignited on the island of Crete where Spiro Gioldasis worked in an Italian restaurant.
"I fell in love, and said one day I will open my own pizzeria," recalled Gioldasis, the owner of Pacci's Neapolitan Pizzeria and Pacci's Trattoria & Pasticceria, both restaurants in downtown Silver Spring.
Gioldasis considers the seven years he spent on Crete with his wife, Roula, as the most memorable of his life. He learned how to make the Neapolitan pizza and homemade pastas made famous in Naples and the Campania region of Italy. After operating his own restaurant on the Greek island, the restaurateur returned to America to build on his dream.
"I had to do something that was basically for my kids. My passion for great pizza involves them because I always cooked pizza for them on Sundays when I was off. They loved it," said Gioldasis.
The name Pacci's combines letters from the first name of his 11-year-old son, Pavlos, and from Cicci, the nickname of his 5-year-old boy. Gioldasis and his wife opened Pacci's Pizzeria on Georgia Avenue almost three years ago.
"I think I've tasted just about everything on the menu. I've had each pizza and all the desserts," said Craig Coleman, a regular patron. "The freshness of the food is amazing."
Coleman and another Fort Washington resident, Janene Mills, work at the nearby World Building. They both agree that the freshness of ingredients elevates Pacci's food far above popular delivery options.
"I'm an addict for their Margherita pizza. I love it. I've not tasted anything else like it," said Mills, who also calls the service topnotch.
Almost everything that goes on the pizzas is cooked every morning in the wood-fired oven. The fresh mozzarella is sliced daily and drained. The sauces, salads and appetizers combine authentic Italian ingredients with locally grown produce.
The $11 Margherita is one of the most popular red sauce pizzas. The $13 Al Tartufo is a white pizza with provola, mushrooms and truffle oil. You can also order antipasti, calzones, and homemade tiramisu. Espresso, specialty cocktails, wine and beer are sold at the Pizzeria.
The owner predicted that people would line up for fresh, Neapolitan pizzas in Silver Spring. "When you love something, and you're dedicated to the business, you will succeed," said Gioldasis.
That is one of many lessons learned from his parents. They operated a successful restaurant business, and taught their children to work hard for what they wanted. Before opening the pizzeria, Gioldasis took over as general manager of Mrs. K's Restaurant. He helped his sister, Konstantina Margas, revitalize the decades old establishment.
Last August, Gioldasis and his wife opened Pacci's Trattoria off of Forest Glen Road. They envisioned a place where busy parents could afford to take their children.
"Fresh ingredients, fresh food made for you at a very reasonable price," said Gioldasis, who owns the building that once housed The General Store. He made some modifications to the interior and introduced a menu with salads, sandwiches and pastas made in house.
"I just think it's a very nice little find. It's small and fairly quiet," said Barbara Rand, a Rockville resident. "Small menu, but satisfactory. Small prices, which is very satisfactory."
Lunch specials are usually under $10. The dinner menu offers such entrees as Pollo al Marsala for $17, Bucatini alla Carbonara for $15 or Lasagna Napoletana for $14. Appetizers include Calamari Fritti priced at $10 and Bruschetta al Pomodoro for $6. You can try the Homemade Tiramisu for $8 or the Limoncello Shortcake for $7. Cocktails, wine and beer are also available.
The brunch menu might surprise some diners with offerings such as Chicken & Waffles, French Toast, Blackened Salmon Benedict or Pacci's Omelet (crab, spinach, pancetta and cheese). The brunch entree prices range from $9.95 to $15.95.
"Luis is responsible for the brunch menu. He has tweaked the recipes since he came. He's changed the recipes to be better," said Gioldasis, the Trattoria's owner.
The chef, Luis Flores, is one of the key components Gioldasis counts on to maintain high standards he learned in Crete and from his parents. From the housemade cherry tomato sauce to the family-friendly service, the restaurateur is sharing his passion for Neapolitan food, and loving it.
The Trattoria will soon have pizzas coming out of a newly added wood-fired oven. Patron Kathleen Thompson owns the Castle at Forest Glen, and she lets diners use the parking lot in front of the Trattoria.
Carry out and catering are available at both Pacci's Trattoria and Pacci's Pizzeria. Check out the restaurants' websites or Facebook pages for more information.
Pacci's Pizzeria is located at 8113 Georgia Ave. and Pacci's Trattoria is located at 6 Post Office Road.
Note: This is a restaurant profile, not a review. Opinions expressed do not represent the ideas of the writer or Patch.