That is what a 1st grader from San Francisco Friends School asked me when his class visited Mozzeria one sunny afternoon. I thought it was an adorable question! I told the first grader that I wasn’t Italian. I bet that boy began to wonder why we opened an Italian restaurant, so I explained that Russ was born in New York City and had developed a special relationship and love for Italian food. Mozzeria is my way of paying tribute to Russ' fondness of Italian food!
We shared with the students the story of the journey we took to finally launch Mozzeria. The students asked Mozzeria staff members how they found out and began work at Mozzeria. Some of us attended culinary school at young age and worked at other restaurants and moved up the ladder. Passion is the key. We also explained how important it is to support the local community. We promote and support local farmers, which gives us a sense of pride knowing our money stays within the communities and that Mozzeria is tied to something bigger like people connecting to the seasons, the land, the food and each other.
At the same time, we use authentic ingredients at Mozzeria including 00 flour and mozzarella di bufala, which are imported from Italy. Our lead cook, Bryan Baker brought out some food examples of what we source from local farmers and suppliers. We treated the students with house-made rhubarb ice cream.
What strikes me the most about this group of hearing 1st graders and their hearing teacher, Alyssa fingerspelled their names when they first saw me. I was curious to find out how they came to knowing basic ASL. Alyssa's mom is an ASL interpreter, and Alyssa likes the idea of teaching her students basic ASL signs. The 1st graders were excited to talk to me using ASL. I would love for everyone to learn ASL and have them communicate in ASL with us when dining at Mozzeria. That would be fun.