Joe Faro loves everything about Italy, from the country’s beauty to its “to die for” desserts. The restaurateur, who was born in Lawrence and lived there until he was a teenager, when his family moved to Windham, N.H., now calls Seabrook Beach, N.H., home. Married with three children, Faro, 48, owns two Italian markets and four restaurants — including the newly opened Tuscan Kitchen Seaport. “We’re super excited about how the restaurant came out,” he said of the 14,000-square-foot Italian eatery with floor-to-ceiling windows, a fireplace, an open hearth pizza oven, and wine and gelato bars. “We are passionate about making everything from scratch and wanted to bring this passion to Boston for a long time.” His other Tuscan Kitchen restaurants are in Burlington, Salem, N.H., and Portsmouth, N.H. We caught up with Faro to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? My home in Sicily, on the Ionian Sea, near the town of Taormina. We have a house in a small town not far from there. It’s one of the most naturally beautiful places on the planet. Sicily is one giant volcanic rock with a very beautiful coastline. The people are very warm and inviting. The food is very rustic and simple. There’s tons of fresh swordfish, fresh tuna . . . different types of crudo. Also, a lot of crustaceans . . . Mediterranean lobsters. . . . Also beautiful olive oils. But it’s primarily known for its seafood — and of course southern Italian pasta dishes. I just love it there. When I travel, I search for great food. It’s a big part of how I make my plans. It’s the way I grew up.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing?
Fresh fish and seafood. When I vacation in Sicily on the ocean, I want to go someplace where they’re getting their fish and seafood fresh every day. I also enjoy a great glass of wine, like Prosecco. I also love different Sicilian reds, like Etna Rosso and Nero D’Avola. They’re very bold, very fruity. They go with a wide variety of different things.
Where would you like to travel to, but haven’t?
I would like to go to Santorini, Greece. I’ve heard amazing things about the climate, the history, the food, and the culture. I’m dying to go there. I may actually split my time between Sicily and Greece (the next time I travel).
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? My Beats studio headphones. I listen to everything from Sade to John Mayer to Metallica.
Aisle or window? Window. I like to look out the window.
Favorite childhood travel memory? Traveling to Walt Disney World for my very first vacation when I was 9 years old on a mattress in the back of a station wagon with my parents and two sisters. Driving right through, straight through, through South of the Border. We were just a poor Italian family and we didn’t know any better. I slept in the back without a seat belt. It was the time of our lives. . . . We didn’t have two nickels to rub together.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? Dessert. I eat a lot of dessert. I don’t always eat dessert, but when I travel, from the minute I leave until I come home, I’m stuffing my face full of dessert of all kinds. Especially in Sicily. The Italian pastry is to die for. In Naples and Sicily you can’t miss the sfogliatelle.
Best travel tip? Take your time. Don’t try to do too much. When you try to cram too much into your trip, you spend too much time moving around and not enough time appreciating what you’re there to appreciate. That, I think, is very important. Especially if you go to Italy.