Firm foundation: When Riccardo Ullio purchased his 1920s Craftsman ten years ago, he had to lay new floors, replaster walls, and even repour the foundation. “The whole house was crooked,” he laughs. “Even the windows were glued shut.” Still, restoring authentic historic details was worth the effort.
Family roots: Ullio decorates around heirlooms and artwork from family and friends. His friend Heather Knight sculpted the two ceramic pieces on the windowsill in his master bedroom. And the room’s Knoll beige chaise, designed by Maya Ying Lin, the artist behind the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, was a rare auction find.
Mix of old and new: In a traditional setting of pine floors and Persian rugs, Ullio added modern touches with fixtures and hardware. For instance, he has two chrome lamps with glass globes and a chrome and crystal chandelier, both circa the 1960s.
From techie to foodie: At the age of twelve, Ullio moved from Italy to Atlanta. He earned a master’s degree in environmental engineering at Georgia Tech but ultimately decided he preferred the lifestyle of a chef, having worked in the food industry since high school. “You don’t have to wear a suit and tie,” he jokes.
Three menus: In 1999, Ullio opened Sotto Sotto, an authentic Italian trattoria. A year later, he opened Fritti right next door, which serves up wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas. Then the restaurateur launched another place in Midtown: Beleza, a Brazilian-inspired cocktail bar with a menu of small plates.
Cook’s kitchen: With the help of designer Matthew Rao, Ullio organized his spacious kitchen to include professional-grade appliances, SieMatic cabinetry, and conveniences such as a prep sink and butcher block. But the chef/owner rarely cooks at home, save for the occasional dinner party or a simple pot roast. He usually eats at one of his own restaurants, which he says is part of quality control. When he does prepare a meal in his own kitchen, he sticks to basics. “I don’t cook complicated food in my restaurants, so I sure don’t at home.
This story originally appeared in the July 2009 issue of Atlanta magazine