Born in the small Sicilian town of Aragona, Franco Graceffa grew up with the smell of sulphur and the taste of great Italian cooking. His family operated the local sulphur mines up until the late 1950s when they were closed. But being the youngest of three siblings, Franco spent much of his youth in the kitchen helping his mother and grandmother prepare the family meals -- an experience that led to a life-long passion for food and fine Italian cuisine.

Franco's ascension to the heavenly world of culinary arts was neither easy nor direct. After receiving his degree in electrical engineering, Franco was conscripted into the Italian army. Upon being discharged, he decided to visit his sister, Enza, who had immigrated to the United States and settled in Waltham, MA. It took only a few weeks for Franco to fall in love with America. Determined to make a new life for himself, the 22-year-old young man decided to move permanently to the United States in 1974.

Franco spent the first two years living with his sister and working for a local bakery in Waltham handling sales and deliveries. Hardly his idea of the American Dream. Franco wanted to be his own man, his own boss. So drawing on his technical training and entrepreneurial instincts, he founded his own construction company and soon became a successful local general contractor. But, Franco's love of cooking and desire to share the delights of Italian food continued to grow unabated.

About this time, he met the other love of his life, Caroline Marie Ciarlone. The daughter of a North End beauty supply store owner, Julio Ciarlone, Caroline encouraged Franco to pursue his quest to own his own restaurant. And two years after their marriage in 1988, Franco's and Caroline's dream became reality: they opened their own restaurant on Hanover Street in Boston's North End. They named it "Dolce Vita" - the sweet life - in Franco's belief that a restaurant should be "about good living, good eating and a good life."

Since its debut in 1990, Dolce Vita Ristorante has developed an enthusiastic, dedicated following of devot»es - numerous media celebrities, politicians, authors and all those who appreciate superb Italian cuisine. Reviews have been extremely favorable. Most recently, Franco moved his Dolce Vita to a brand new location one block down Hanover Street. In these newly renovated and elegant surroundings, Dolce Vita has taken on a whole new life.

In his own inimitable style, Franco continues to greet everyone - guests with reservations and sidewalk passers-by alike - at the door to his restaurant with the same enthusiastic refrain: "Welcome to Dolce Vita! This is my place, this is my house. Come on in! If you don't like my food, you don't have to pay for it! Make my Dolce Vita your home away from home."


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