Local restaurateur talks about business and family 

Contributed by Judy Fish

Laker Giacomo Cracchiolo is ready to get personal. 

Giacomo, who immigrated from Italy and now owns three local restaurants, dished recently about rumors of a big change for his Italian restaurant, his love story, and the importance of family.

“The rumors are true! We are changing our name. We will no longer be Sal’s Italian Restaurant,” Giacomo said. “We will soon be Gia Italia Restaurant.”

Giacomo, who has owned Sal’s near Food Lion for some 10 years, said he has wanted to change the name for quite some time because the new name “feels more personal.” Of course, “Gia” is the first three letters of the restaurateur’s first name. 

The Italian immigrant, his wife Claudia, and their young son moved to Lake Monticello in 2012. That’s when he opened Sal’s near Food Lion with his father-in-law. Not too many months later, Giacomo purchased the restaurant, becoming the sole owner. 

Sal’s was not Giacomo’s first restaurant, and it is not his last. He co-owned Luigi’s—a pizza shop in North Carolina—for five years before moving to Virginia to be closer to family. 

“I met my wife in Italy,” he said in a telephone interview. “She was already living in the United States and was on a 10-day vacation. We had so much in common.” Giacomo said the couple waited five years to get to know each other better before marrying. “Eight months after our July 24, 2007, wedding in Italy, we decided to move to North Carolina,” he said. 

When Giacomo and Claudia relocated to Lake Monticello five years later, they had one son, Luca (now 12). Their family has grown with the births of Mattia (age 8) and Emma (age 4). 

Much like their family has grown, so has their business with the opening of Blue 53—a sports bar and grill in January 2017 and Amo Gelato Caffe’ in April 2020. All three businesses are located right outside Lake Monticello’s Turkeysag Gate. Blue 53 offers sports bar type food and several big screen televisions to catch the latest games. Amo Gelato Caffe’ has coffee and Italian desserts, in addition to gelato, and now regularly hosts live music.

“We hope this doesn’t confuse people,” the busy father said of the updated name on his flagship restaurant. “We will still have the same great food and the same prices. Only our name is getting updated for now,” he said, adding that he plans to later freshen up the décor to match the new name. 

“We appreciate our customers who have stayed with us for more than a decade,” Giacomo said. “We appreciate the support and friendship of this great community.”

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