Gary Bimonte may not be a household name, but the arrival of his family business in Chestnut Hill six months ago created quite a buzz. Bimonte, 56, is the grandson of Frank Pepe, who founded the popular Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven in 1925. The restaurant, known for its crisp, charred-crust pizza made in coal-burning ovens, has won numerous awards year after year. With the opening of the Frank Pepe pizzeria in the Chestnut Hill mall, the first in Massachusetts, there are now eight in all (six in Connecticut and one in New York). Bimonte, a Hamden, Conn., native who lives in Wallingford and is one of seven of Pepe’s grandchildren who run the business, is the manager of quality control for all of the restaurants. “It’s important to make sure that they’re adhering to the recipes,” he said. “We weren’t sure how we would be received in the Boston metro area, but things are going great and people here are welcoming us with open arms.” We caught up with Bimonte to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation spot? Aruba. I simply fell in love with the island on my first trip there 17 years ago. I have been going every year since because the people are very friendly and the weather and water are perfect all year-round.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? I always make sure I enjoy a good steak or seafood dish.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I’d love to go to Italy. It’s important for me to visit the country where my grandparents came from. However, it’s a long flight!
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? I can’t leave without a Frank Pepe’s T-shirt!
Aisle or window? Definitely an aisle seat for me. I’m a big guy, so that’s where I like to sit.
Favorite childhood travel memory? I remember going to my aunt’s [waterfront] cottage [in East Haven] during the summer with my siblings and my cousins. We had wonderful times.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? My guilty pleasure is eating way too much.
Best travel tip? I always tell people to give themselves enough time to relax while traveling. It’s important to not be too rushed because, after all, it’s a vacation.
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