NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Giampietro "Lillo" Remia left his job as a pastry chef in Rome "for love."
He moved with his family to Brooklyn, where he opened Lillo Cucina Italiana, a humble neighborhood trattoria.
"I was living here for a few years, and really, I [kept] looking for the same place—an Italian place where you can [talk] soccer, politics. And it was not easy [to find]," he said.
He filled this gap when he opened his restaurant, drawing crowds of Italian natives and Brooklyn locals.
"In this place, all customers are welcome," he said.
While there's no alcohol on the menu and space for only a handful of tables, Lillo has won fans for its rustic flavors and homey atmosphere.
"In this place, we're cooking real home food made with soul, made with love. Simple is better," Lillo said.
His menu features family recipes like cacio e pepe, a simple Roman pasta with fresh black pepper and Pecorino Romano cheese.
People may come for the pasta, but they stay for the communal energy.
"You become part of other people's conversations," said Steve Negrycz, a neighbor-turned-friend of the restaurant.
"The place is often packed with faces we've never seen before," said Laurie Duncan, neighbor and IT consultant for the restaurant. "They make friends very quickly because you're pretty much on top of each other. It's like being in [Lillo's] living room," she said.
"It's really a simple place, teeny, but the food is good," Lillo said. "All people here are in the family. Outside, it's cold. When you come inside, you feel warm. I love it."
Lillo Cucina Italiana
331 Henry Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
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