Sunday, January 31: CityFeast in the North End. Since Antico Forno and Terramia owner Carla Agrippino Gomes founded it in 2005, the neighborhood-wide CityFeast has raised over $280,000 for Joslin Diabetes Center’s High Hopes Fund; Gomes credits the Center for its treatment of her son, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. For one night only, a $150 ticket entitles you to a five-course, wine-paired dinner at one of nine participating restaurants, including Strega, Tresca and Bricco. Find the full list, and purchase your tickets, here.
The 11th annual CityFeast event in Boston’s North End, to benefit Joslin Diabetes Center’s High Hopes Fund, will take place on Sunday, January 31, starting at 6 p.m. at of the North End’s Italian restaurants. Tickets are $150 each, of which $100 is tax deductible, and include a five-course dinner with wine pairings at one of the participating restaurants.
Participating restaurants include Antico Forno, Aria Trattoria, Bricco, Lucca, Lucia, Strega, Taranta, Terramia Ristorante, and Tresca. Tickets include a five-course dinner with wine pairings at one of the participating restaurants
Founded in 2005 by Carla Agrippino Gomes, owner of Antico Forno and Terramia, CityFeast has raised nearly $280,000 for Joslin Diabetes Center’s High Hopes Fund. Carla started this fundraiser in the North End of Boston with her restaurants and several others as a way to support Joslin Diabetes Center and the life-saving care her son receives since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 24 years ago. Joslin Diabetes Center is the world’s preeminent diabetes research and care organization, located right here in Boston.
Carla Agrippino Gomes of Canton again will organize the 11th annual Cityfeast at 6 p.m. Jan. 31.
The event is an evening hosted by nine restaurants in Boston: Antico Forno, Aria Trattoria, Bricco, Lucca, Lucia, Strega, Taranta, Terramia Ristorante and Tresca. Tickets include a five-course dinner with wine pairings at one of the participating restaurants.
Proceeds will benefit Joslin Diabetes Center’s High Hopes Fund, which supports research, education and clinical care.
Tickets are $150, of which $100 is tax deductible. Due to high demand, reservations are limited, and will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Founded in 2005 by Gomes, owner of Antico Forno and Terramia, CityFeast has raised nearly $280,000 for Joslin Diabetes Center’s High Hopes Fund.
For information: [email protected]
Carla Gomes knows what it takes to make a restaurant in Boston stand out. After all, the North End native has been doing just that since she first opened Terramia in 1993 giving Bostonians an authentic taste of Italy.
We caught up with Gomes recently to find out what she loves most about Boston.
Where were you born? North End, Boston
How long in Boston? Most of my life, pretty much
Where do you live now? Canton, MA
Occupation? Restaurateur: Owner of Terramia, Antico Forno and Cobblestone
Favorite restaurant I don’t have a favorite because I like so many…but if I had to choose because I love steak I would choose The Capital Grille
Best Sushi: Douzo
Best Italian: Terramia
Best dessert: Bread Pudding
Best place for a romantic date: Bastille Kitchen
Best Sunday brunch: Ward 8
Best place for a power business meeting: Antico Forno or Terramia
If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend? Boston Yacht Haven which is right on the Harbor…just beautiful
Favorite shopping venue/boutique: Love it all… whether it’s boutique shops in the North End or Charles St. or South End. But my all time favorite is Twilight on Fleet St. North End
Best place to buy Jewelry/Watches: E.B. Horn
Best Spa: Mirbeau Inn and Spa at The Pinehills in Plymouth, MA
Favorite Charity Event: Joslin Diabetes Center High Hopes Gala
Favorite Cultural Event: North End Feasts…A tradition close to my heart and my upbringing and also watching football on Sundays if you can call that cultural
Favorite Cultural Institution: Isabella Gardner Stewart
Best Steakhouse: The Capital Grille
Best Pizza: When I’m not eating it at Antico Forno, I’d say Volturno in Worcester and Keste in New York
Best Gym/Athletic Facility: Elite Health and Fitness Center in Stoughton, MA
Best Massage: Bella Sante…the absolute best massage ever
Best Driving Service: Myself, I love to drive
Best Museum/Exhibit: Isabella Gardner Stewart
Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore: I have 2…Fenway Park and Boston Public Library…1st public library with a wealth of knowledge and original artwork
Describe Boston in three words: Three words is difficult….I love everything about Boston, and it being a “Walking City,” but I especially love the people…the way Bostonians band together in good times and bad is the best thing about this city.
All-around favorite locale in Boston, whether a neighborhood, restaurant, venue, or other: North End is definitely my favorite neighborhood
Best Aspect of Boston….The ocean…growing up in the North End and always having the ocean two blocks away. Now since its redevelopment you can walk the “Harbor Walk” on the waterfront which I love to do with my dog.
Boston’s North End is a 0.36 square mile neighborhood that’s home to over 60 restaurants. Famous for Italian cuisine, the neighborhood has a plethora of day and evening spots for the curious visitor searching for a true taste of Italy. For some, the restaurant business is a paycheck. People come in, sit down, eat, drink, and leave. For others, the restaurant business is a passion. These people sell what they love, and the people who eat there love what’s being sold. Recently, I spoke with one of these people, Carla Agrippino-Gomes, owner and general manager of Antico Forno, Terramia, and Cobblestone Café.
“People don’t know I’m the owner when they see me on a Friday or Saturday night,” Gomes tells me. “Probably because I’m at the host stand seating folks or running around the dining room making sure the guests have what they need.”
The key to running a successful restaurant, according to Gomes, is a hands-on owner that cares. Leadership starts at the top and trickles down. “I have forty three employees between the three stores and I know every one of their names.”
Though the stores have the same owner, their missions are different. Antico Forno Cucina a Legna, which means “Old Oven, Kitchen of Wood” in Italian, is a unique style because of the wood oven Carla uses to cook her pizza. The wood oven was the first in the neighborhood. What’s more is Carla uses volcanic ash on the floor of the oven, which retains heat better than conventional ovens. Carla likens the dining atmosphere to eating in your mother’s kitchen, comfortable yet deliciously authentic. Terramia brings Italy to you, literally. Mario Nocero, Carla’s partner and Executive Chef, was born and raised in Italy and brought the recipes he enjoyed from home. Cobblestone Café is the latest venture with family at its heart. Cozy and casual, the café offers flavored coffees (Snickerdoodle is Carla’s favorite), sandwiches, breakfast, burgers, salads, and more. With the help of her sons, Carla introduces traditional American fare into the predominantly Italian North End.
Carla exemplifies her philosophy of hands on. Twice a week she drives the van for Cobblestone and orders all the food. She doesn’t have any managers to pass the responsibilities to; however, she does rely on exceptional help in the kitchen. At the other restaurants, Carla does everything from bookkeeping, coordinating reservations, and even hosting fundraisers.
Carla’s philanthropy stems from the heart also. Her son, David, now 25, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on his first birthday. Held at Antico Forno, leading CityFeast: Dining Out to Conquer Diabetes benefits the High Hopes Fund at Joslin Diabetes Center, she is recognized as a Community Event Champion by the Joslin Diabetes Center for her fundraising, Carla has contributed enormously to the fight against diabetes.
A graduate of the Forsyth Dental Hygiene School at Northeastern University, Agrippino-Gomes practiced dental hygiene for a decade before having children. “It was a nice career and I enjoyed my time in dentistry but I wouldn’t want to go back. After I had kids, I knew I wanted to go back to work but do something different.” Her brother Bobby had a restaurant on the Cape with Chef Mario Nocero. Mario wanted to expand and start a new restaurant but Bobby wasn’t interested. Enter Carla. “I asked Bobby, ‘Do you think Mario would be interested in a female partner?’ I didn’t think much of it but Mario called me and we talked. That was on a Tuesday. By Friday, contracts were signed and I had a new career.” Thrust into a new world, Carla found her passion by trial. Three restaurants later, I asked Carla what’s next?
“I don’t know. I don’t want to change. I love what I do. I never thought I’d be where I am but now that I’m here, I love it.”
Tradition, family, passion; virtues personified in Boston’s North End by people like Carla Agrippino-Gomes. See for yourself at Antico Forno, Terramia, and the new Cobblestone Café.
Dave and Rob Gomes, the lucky sons of Antico Forno & Terramia owner Carla Gomes who won $1 million playing DraftKings, getting a spread on ESPN.com …
SITTING ACROSS FROM Dave and Rob Gomes in their mother’s Italian restaurant in Boston’s North End is a surreal experience. The brothers aren’t famous, but they are weirdly familiar, like strangers you see every day at a coffee shop. Sometimes they get recognized. “At bars, it’ll happen,” says Dave, a cheery 25-year-old with a thick Boston accent and gelled hair parted sharply to one side. He cuts into a wedge of tiramisu. “I’ll have people come up to me and be like: ‘You’re the guy.'”
In November 2014, the Gomes brothers, who share an apartment in South Boston, won $1 million playing daily fantasy football on DraftKings.com. The company used the footage from their victory party, which took place at this restaurant, in a series of advertisements. So far this year, they have appeared on television more than 32,000 times, often during the commercial breaks of football games. As the brothers became ubiquitous, they attained meme status — a few people dressed up as them on Halloween, according to Rob, 26 — and incurred the wrath of social media.
Dave pulls out his phone and reads a few tweets. “If I ever meet Dave Gomes, I’m gonna hit him over the head with that oversized check,” he says.
“Dave Gomes on DraftKings commercials has easily one of the top 5 most punchable faces ever.”
“I see more of Dave Gomes than I do my kids.”
“That Gomes guy on the DraftKings commercial looks like every frat douche ever.”
Dave, who is studying to become a physician’s assistant, shares a glance with Rob. “Accurate,” he says. “I was in a frat.”
If you watch football, or ESPN, which has an exclusive advertising deal with DraftKings, you’ve seen the commercial. (It starts with the brothers pacing near the bar at the restaurant, Antico Forno, surrounded by a few dozen family members and friends. Rob, who is wearing a backward cap and a throwback Tom Brady jersey, sweats and fidgets and makes a series of increasingly theatrical faces; at one point, he literally spins with anxiety. Dave mostly stares at the television. Then the voice-over hits: “This is what it looks like when real people” — dramatic pause — “win a million dollars playing fantasy football.”
Dave says DraftKings approached him on the Sunday before they won, once it became clear that he and his brother — the two had entered the contest together under Dave’s name — were front-runners for the million-dollar prize. “The day before, our mom was like, ‘Stop putting money into that site,'” Rob says. They had drafted lucrative sleepers in the Buccaneers’ defense, which squashed struggling quarterback Robert Griffin III, and a little-known Patriots running back named Jonas Gray. After Gray scored four touchdowns against the Colts that Sunday in Week 11, the brothers surged to first place. But they had to wait and see whether their closest challenger, who selected Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, would overtake them on Monday night during a matchup between Pittsburgh and Tennessee.
DraftKings, which is also based in Boston (the brothers say they had never met anyone from the company before that Monday), sent a few staffers with cameras to the restaurant. “They told us it was gonna be for a documentary,” Dave says. When the Steelers went into victory formation, ensuring that Bell wouldn’t score any more points, the party erupted. DraftKings filmed their champagne-soaked celebration. (Not captured on camera: the group moving to the streets, then to a local strip club, which had subbed in its Saturday night lineup in anticipation of the big spenders, according to Dave. Unfortunately, the brothers were broke at the time and couldn’t spend their oversized check on the dancers.)
A few months passed. Dave saw the first commercial in March; by the summer, it was everywhere. So far this year, DraftKings has spent $154 million on commercials that have aired over 46,000 times, up more than 425 percent from 2014; in September, it outspent every advertiser on TV, including its larger rival, FanDuel, according to iSpot.tv. The company repurposed the footage from the Gomes brothers’ party for several spots, using it to promote everything from fantasy UFC to fantasy NASCAR.
“Everyone always asks if we got paid for it,” Dave says.
“We didn’t get a dime,” says Rob.
“Well, we got paid,” Dave replies.
“We won a million bucks,” Rob says. “I’m not complaining.”
Although the two men had been playing fantasy football for years, they were relatively new to the daily version of the game. Dave says he won $3,500 during his second week on DraftKings; a week later, he won the million-dollar prize. The company couldn’t have dreamed up better pitchmen — two brothers, both amateurs, both jockish, camera-friendly guys who didn’t look like they spent hours in front of a computer. “Just pick your sport, pick your players and pick up your cash,” the commercial said. “That’s it. It’s the simplest way to win life-changing piles of cash every week.” The takeaway was obvious: Anyone, even two average guys from Boston, even you, could win big.
But now, as DraftKings battles regulators who want to ban daily fantasy sports, it must undermine that message. On Nov. 10, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ordered DraftKings and FanDuel to shutter their operations in his state, claiming, among other things, that their contests should be classified as gambling because they’re contingent on chance. He also wrote in the complaint that the websites’ advertisements are misleading, using the Gomes ad — complete with a screenshot of the brothers’ mugging faces — as an example of how the companies make winning seem too easy. On Nov. 25, DraftKings and FanDuel recently fired back in court, arguing that skilled players — i.e., not just anyone, and probably not you — dominate their sites.
“There isn’t any doubt that a small fraction of players win the vast majority of prizes and do so time after time,” said DraftKings lawyer David Boies. “This is inconsistent with a game of chance.” The company cited research showing that a few experts, some of whom use complex mathematical models to assemble unusual lineups, reap most of the site’s winnings. It also highlighted the efforts of a million-dollar prizewinner named Peter Jennings, an avid daily fantasy player who reportedly spends up to 90 hours a week doing research. (He also works as a fantasy analyst for ESPN.) “He believes his success is the result of the immense amounts of research and preparation and the sophisticated analysis he has developed over years of playing,” the company wrote.
Admittedly, the phrase “immense research and preparation and sophisticated analysis” is a lot less catchy than “Pick your players and pick up your cash.”
Dave and Rob Gomes don’t use algorithms. They aren’t former poker players, and they don’t have quantitative expertise. But they do spend over 20 hours a week studying lineup strategies, according to Dave, and sometimes win a few thousand dollars. “We’re still learning,” Rob says. “We were rookies last year.”
After DraftKings wired them their winnings last fall — about $600,000 after taxes, Dave says — they invested in a condo in South Boston and flew to Arizona for the Super Bowl, winning an additional $90,000 off a bet they had placed on the Patriots in Las Vegas back in August. After the Super Bowl, they drove to Vegas to pick up their money in person, spending a night walking up and down the Strip with a knapsack full of cash. They stayed in Floyd Mayweather’s suite, Dave says. “It was bigger than my house.”
The brothers have enjoyed the spoils of microcelebrity. This past summer, they met their beloved Rob Gronkowski at an awards event. Dave says random women on Facebook message him at least once a week — “I have girls hitting me up from crazy states” — and at least one of his solicitors has flown to Boston to meet him. This fall he and Rob started taping a radio show called The Fantasy Bros, in which they counsel listeners on setting lineups. The name has a double meaning, explains Dave: “We’re bros, and we’re bros.”
The two men say they haven’t seen their commercial in weeks. According to a report in The Boston Globe, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said at a recent conference that DraftKings was changing its advertisements to focus more on the gaming experience and less on “the prizing aspect.” Now that the company is arguing that skill plays an integral role in daily fantasy, it’s no longer touting how easy it is to win.
The Gomes brothers say that while they enjoyed their brief notoriety, they’re happy to recede from the spotlight. “I had so many people texting me: ‘I’m sick of your face,'” Dave says.
Rob laughs. “I’m sick of seeing me on TV at this point,” he says.
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The North End’s Salem Street has the exclusive privilege of hosting the famed Terramia Ristorante. The dining room is home to a mere dozen tables, guaranteeing an intimate ambience, aided by the calm and unwavering classicalism of the interior.
Terramia goes to great lengths to broaden the horizons of their clientele, with offerings that go well beyond the staple Italian menu items. While it is always changing, seasonal highlights include sesame and lemon trout and open-face raviolo.