The Sicilian family traditions began several years before Lisa and Gianni were even born in a town called Montelepre, Sicily. Montelepre had a population of just 6,200 people, and is where both of their grand parents are from. Their roots started there and have traveled to Grand Rapids where they reside today. Gianni & Lisa met at Central Michigan University in front of the bookstore in 2000.
After Gianni graduated in December of 2002 he pursued a career in sales and landed his first job at Enterprise-Rent-A-Car. Lisa was finishing up her degree in Business and apparel merchandising and graduated shortly after. Immediately after graduation, Lisa began cosmetology school. They were bound to get married but Gianni played the “five year plan” even though he knew he wouldn’t find any better than Lisa. In 2005 they were married and moved to a small house on the NE side of Grand Rapids. Lisa had grown up on the NE side and Gianni quickly shared her love for the area.
Gianni pursued pharmaceutical sales and Lisa began a successful career as a hairstylist. Since 2005, several things happened including a new home and three beautiful children named Gianna, Nico, and Leo. Lisa and Gianni have kept up with the demands of being parents, partners, providers, and now business owners.
Gianni was going on 10 years of corporate life and was eager to finally to pursue his dream. After several conversations with Lisa about pursuing a restaurant career, she finally agreed that it was time. What would make this business unique and different from all of the competition?
Gianni will always tell you that it doesn’t get any better than mom’s house. He has been spoiled with traditional dishes all his life, so you can’t blame him. Anytime you go to Mamma Licari’s you end up in a food coma and walk out with a to go container - and by marrying a Sicilian girl, the coma continues. The main reason Gianni wanted to pursue a career in the food business was because he really wanted to showcase his mother’s recipes. He wants everyone else to experience what he got everyday growing up and still today from Lisa. With his ambition, and Lisa's passion for food and cooking it seemed like a recipe for success. Gianni had his own experience working for family and friends in the business but always wanted do it for himself and his family. Several corporate chains do it well, but not many places offer truly authentic Sicilian cuisine with fresh, high quality ingredients. They want to show the community that the secret to great food is high quality ingredients, made from scratch recipes, and attention to detail.
With lots of blood, sweat and tears behind them, and many more to come, Licari's has successfully become a casual, energetic, and affordable neighborhood pizza kitchen. They were even featured on the Food Network in 2012 and spent an entire week along side celebrity chef Bobby Flay. This quaint Sicilian spot is conveniently located in Celadon New Town next to the Crushed Grape. It’s airy, easy-going, and the spin on the Sicilian food is as delicious as the atmosphere. Claim a spot in the restaurant and order up some serious pizza, relax with a glass of wine, or perhaps with a bottle of wine from the carefully selected unique wine list.