Dino Santonicola, Executive Chef and Master Pizzaiolo at Cane Rosso, was officially named a Trustee by the VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana) Americas, the official delegation for the United States. There are only two other Trustees in the whole of the country with this designation, and Santonicola will be in charge of the South.
The Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana is an international organization that was established in 1984 by some of the most famous Neapolitan pizzerias in Italy, with the mission to protect and promote the “true Neapolitan pizza”—as a typical product made in accordance with the rules and guidelines described in the International Regulations.
Santonicola, originally from Naples, adheres to the strict principles endorsed by the AVPN at Cane Rosso and serves the most authentic Neapolitan style pizza in the metroplex.
Santonicola began his pizza career as a young teen in Naples, Italy. Growing up in the city’s Spanish Quarter, the then 13-year-old was encouraged by his mother to work at the pizzeria down the street from his home.
Beginning as the delivery boy, he worked his way up to dishwasher and prep cook before learning how to roll dough and work the oven. After six years, Santonicola left to cook in the north of Italy and Spain when a chance encounter between a cabdriver friend of his and an American entrepreneur led his career in a new direction.
Despite not speaking each other’s language, the American passenger left Italy with Santonicola’s name and number, soon offering him a job at his new pizzeria in Seattle. Santonicola made the move to the U.S. in 2004 to chef at Via Tribunale in the city’s burgeoning Capital Hill Neighborhood.
After spending five years in Seattle, Santonicola worked at Pizzeria Da Marco in Bethesda, Maryland before joining Cane Rosso in the fall of 2011. In 2012, he married his wife, Megan Dennison, who serves as Cane Rosso’s director of operations.
When not developing new dishes for Cane Rosso’s many menus, Santonicola enjoys eating pizza, pasta and Mexican food and spending time with his wife, daughter and new son.
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