Even while surrounded by corporate chains, Chianti’s Pizza and Pasta stands out as a classic family owned Italian eatery. Owner Ian Schneider works hard to bring quality Italian food, including their well-known brick oven pizzas, to all of Sanford through his simple, clean dining service and participation in the community. This is a featured post*.
Open since March 19th, 2012, Chianti’s serves up delicious pizza, pasta, and other traditional Italian fare for dine-in, take-out and delivery. “Growing up in NY, Chianti was served at every meal,” Ian said. “Back then it came in a wicker bottomed bottle. It was the wine of good times and bad, first dates, bereavements, anniversaries, etc. That’s why I named the restaurant Chianti’s.”
Ian’s own history as a chef inspires his desire to teach and mentor young adults today. He began his culinary career making chicken parmesan as a kid, and his mom would double check the chicken to make sure it got cooked through. It was also his mother who later encouraged Ian to be ambitious about his career choice. “She told me, ‘I don’t want you stuck behind a grill your whole life’,” Ian said.
While working full time, Ian went on to receive an AAS in Restaurant Management and a BS in Business from the State University of New York. He was fortunate enough to be mentored by one the of giants of the Italian food industry, Tony Sbarro. “He was the first guy to to place a piece of pizza dough in my hands,” Ian remembered fondly. After working his way up in the company, Ian became the Director of Operations for Sbarro, and opened up locations around the world for the brand. Today, he passes on his knowledge of the industry and what it means to work hard to high school kids enrolled in a partnership work study program between his restaurant and local schools. “I treat these students like my own kids,” Ian told us. “I had some great mentors, and I feel like it’s important to give back.”
The students learn how to work in a kitchen and get paid to do it, so that when they are out in the real world, they stay one step ahead of graduates who have never held a job. “Don’t get me wrong, they have to work hard,” Ian said. He doesn’t allow them to cut corners in his kitchen. Many of the students who have completed the program stay on to work for Chianti’s long after graduation, turning out tasty dishes like the lovely chicken francese and cream filled cannolis we had the night we visited the restaurant.
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Enjoy a FREE bottle of Chianti if you order 2 dinner entrees. This offer is valid until May 24th, 2015.
Chianti’s Pizza & Pasta, 685 Towne Center Blvd., Sanford, FL 32771
But that’s not the only connection Chianti’s has to the local community. Ian believes that it’s especially important to be involved, and frequently opens his restaurant services up to football teams, gymnastics teams, and other campus groups who need meals for events. He sometimes even helps kindergartners learn to make pizza multiple times a year, and holds a first responder’s day to reward hardworking firemen, law enforcement, and medical professionals with a free personal pizza.
Chianti’s will be hosting another excellent community event this coming Thursday, the 23rd: the St. Johns River Arts Festival Patron of the Arts Dinner. The restaurant will offer a complimentary Italian buffet, a cash bar, and live music as prospective patrons browse through the art on display. Any lover of art or person who wants to support the arts festival should not miss out on this sophisticated night of art and music!
Chianti’s wants everyone to feel welcome and well taken care of, offering gluten-friendly items, no additional charge for additional pizza toppings, and free delivery to surrounding areas. On Sanford365’s tour of the kitchens, we learned all about the delicious items that Ian and his crew make from scratch. The restaurant creates their homemade soups from their own stock and uses first-pressed olive oil in their pizza dough and salad dressings.
If you haven’t visited Chianti’s yet, take a trip there and get to know Ian and his restaurant. Between the yummy food, welcoming atmosphere, and Ian’s contagious passion for his work, you’ll find a little slice of home. And for those of you who feel like enjoying some Chianti’s at their own home, you will be happy to hear that Chianti’s is now also offering online ordering at chiantispizza.com
For more information about Chianti’s and to RSVP for the Patron of the Arts Dinner, contact the restaurant at (407) 878-5900 or simplyRSVP for the free dinner here!
Sunday-Thursday: 11am-9pm | Friday-Saturday: 11am-10pm
*I received compensation in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.