15 & Under the Full Story: Cugino Forno

What is the background of Cugino Forno?  

I’ll start with the meaning of our name. Cugino means cousin, and that is where the story starts! We are three cousins, and Forno means oven in Italian. This is our second location we opened our first location in Greensboro in March 2017. It was a very interesting start. We used to work in Mooresville, NC, I left and went to Europe for 3 months basically just driving around. City to city, village to village, town to town all over Europe! As we were traveling around money gets tight, you have to watch out. It was time to start something, so I called my cousins and said “You know what we should do something like this (Cugino Forno)” and they agreed that we should. I came back to the United State and started to look around for a building. I drove about 17,000 miles in 2 months! We finally found the location in Greensboro and that is where we opened our first restaurant in Revolution Mill, Greensboro. After that was a great success people were calling, emailing, and messaging us asking “Why don’t you come to Winston? Why don’t you come to Winston? Why don’t you come to Winston?” They basically decided where we should open our second location. We came and we looked at Bailey Park, and it was just what we were looking for. We did not want to be in a strip mall with forced structure, no character to the building, and no ambiance. That does not work well with the concept that we have. So we looked at it and started talking and of course they were amazing to us, and they were really easy to work with. On March 16th, 2019 we opened this location.   

What has being a part of the Winston-Salem community been like for Cugino Forno? 

It has been amazing. Truly, truly we are so thankful to each and every member of the community. They have been amazing as far as the hospitality we have seen from the whole community as well as the City. There is a great vibe, and great friendly people here. It is a unique City with a great vibe, and a diverse range of people!   

Do you have a mission if so what is it? 

Our mission statement is to take people to Italy without their passport. The reason is if you look around you see those are the tomatoes that we import from Italy. They were grown in and around Naples in the Mt. Vesuvius area, the olive oil is from Italy. When you first walk in you see the bags of flour, meat, gelato, and most importantly the cheese is from Italy. The cheese is freshly produced and it has to be eaten right away. The cheese in your pizza that we will have in the next 10-15 minutes it was in Naples about 4-5 days ago! It is the missions to take people to Italy without the passport, without a plane ticket, using the music, with the ambiance. That is why we didn’t paint the walls! People ask “Why didn’t you paint the walls because they are all off colors?” Well that is exactly what we like. To be honest we don’t even consider ourselves a restaurant we consider ourselves a Bakery! The reason is in the back in the kitchen we do not have a stove to cook anything. Everything literally happens right in front of your eyes, right here in those giant ovens. Again, those ovens were imported from Italy, they were hand made by two people each one weighs about 7,000 pounds, and they cook a pizza in 90 seconds.Sometimes People will think that we actually pre-make the pizza because it is so fast!   

What is Cugino Forno known for? 

We are known for great pizza, amazing atmosphere, and amazing customer service. When we were first getting ready to open the first location in Greensboro I had only one thing in mind which was…If somebody has a guest from out of town, or out of the country, we want them to bring them here. We want them to say “You know what let me take you to this pizza place. They have really good pizza, really good atmosphere, and really good customer service”… The moment I see people bringing their relatives, family members, friends from out of town to here that was when I knew we achieved what we were trying to do. We wanted to stand out with the quality, with the concept, and with the ability to see who is making your pizza. How clean they are, what they are using, and what they are not using. When you have someone visiting from out of town you want to show them somewhere cool. It’s a psychological thing, you want to show them something cool about your city, your town, and your community.  

What is the most fun thing to do in Winston-Salem? 

I actually like downtown Winston-Salem a lot. It is a happening place. You can literally stop somewhere have a coffee at a little bakery, have some dessert, and watch people. Being from Turkey originally, and also Europe in general that is the main thing people do. We sit in a cafe, we get a little coffee, and a little drink, and people watch!   

Your personal favorite item on the menu or merchandise?

Bianca. The bianca pizza, the white one, with the big cheese on top. That is my favorite. The margarita is my second favorite because that was the very first pizza ever made for Queen Margherita. King Umberto and Queen Margherita visited Naples, and they wanted to make something special for the queen, so they tried to make something with the Italian flag. Tomatoes = red, basil = green, cheese = white, and they named it after the Queen of Savoy.  

If cugino forno was a superhero what powers would it have?

We would want to make sure everybody has a way to get their hands on a good pizza, because there are a lot of pizza places and a lot of different chains, but once you eat good pizza you will not go back! We want people to see what real pizza is about and how it has been made for centuries in and around Italy. So we will make sure everybody can reach, and try what real authentic pizza is about. 

Anything else you would like Wake Community/Community at Large to know? 

We want them to know that we are one of the most traditional pizza places in Winston-Salem. We would love for them to come give us a try, and see what we are all about. Experience it one on one and always tell us what they think! We want them to say wow with the food, wow with the customer service, and wow with the ambiance, everything A to Z.