Getting to know Carla Agrippino-Gomes

Tradition, Family and Passion

Carla
“I never thought I’d be where I am but now that I’m here, I love it.” – Carla Agrippino-Gomes

Getting to know Carla Agrippino-Gomes

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.

Antico Forno

Terramia Exterior

“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.

North End Food

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.

 

Getting to know Carla Agrippino-Gomes | Scene Magazine

BBJ’s 2015 Healthcare Heroes

healthcareheroesThe Boston Business Journal today announced its 2015 Healthcare Heroes, which honors those who have worked tirelessly to improve the overall health and wellness of those living in Massachusetts and beyond.

The 14 award winners (see list below) will be will be featured in a special section in the BBJ on Aug. 14.

“The Boston Business Journal is impressed with the amazing talent of the medical community here in Massachusetts and we’re excited to be able to share their inspiring stories,” said Boston Business Journal Publisher Gale Murray. “Congratulations to all the 2015 Healthcare Heroes.”

2015 BBJ Healthcare Heroes

Volunteer: Audrey Reny on behalf of Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and Carla Gomes on behalf of the Joslin Diabetes Center

Researcher: Diana Bianchi, Executive Director of the Mother Infant Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center

Educator: Melinda Maryniuk, Director of Clinical and Education Programs at the Joslin Diabetes Center; and Joel Katz, Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Advocate: Lynn Nicholas, President and CEO of Massachusetts Hospital Association

Outreach: Carla Fogaren, Director of Diversity Initiatives, Interpreter Services and ADA Coordination for Steward Health Care

Innovator: Lloyd Aiello, Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, Vice Chair for Centers of Excellence and Associate Chief of Longwood Ophthalmology at Harvard Department of Ophthalmology, Director of the Beetham Eye Institute and Head of Eye Research at Joslin Diabetes Center; and Adam Landman, Chief Medical Information Officer for Health Information Innovation & Integration at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Non-physician provider: Stephanie Shine, clinical nurse in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Physician provider: Thea James, attending physician in the Emergency Department at Boston Medical Center; and Andrea Mckee, oncologist at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center and Director of Lahey’s Rescue Lung, Rescue Life Program

Executive: Eric Schultz, President and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

Lifetime achievement: Ed Benz, President and CEO of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

 

Source

Carla Gomes DH ’81 Serves Up Charity

Walk down Salem Street in Boston’s North End, and you’ll probably see Carla Gomes DH ’81. The beloved, ubiquitous owner of Antico Forno and Terramia restaurants, at which MCPHS students and their families receive 10% discounts, incessantly shuttles between the two establishments whose employees are as close as family. In the North End, family comes first. No one knows that better than Gomes. Gomes’s son David, a 21-year old Pre-Med MCPHS student, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes on his first birthday. Gomes says that David was somewhat fortunate to receive an early diagnosis. Yet, living with diabetes poses major challenges. “Diabetes is always with you…It’s a consideration in each move you make, every day,” Gomes says.

Last May, Joslin Diabetes Center honored Gomes at Symphony Hall  for her tireless diabetes research and diabetes care fundraising efforts that have yielded more than $150,000 since 2003. Proceeds from the annual CityFeast at Antico Forno are directed to Joslin’s High Hopes Fund.  “I want to raise as much money as possible for High Hopes so that one day David and millions like him will be free from diabetes and its complications.”

Editor’s Note: The below interview has been edited and condensed for space.

MCPHS – Tell us about your background and your time at Forsyth
Carla Gomes – I grew up in the North End on Hanover Street with two brothers. I spent two years at the Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists as a commuter student. Those two years were amazing. I even met one of my dearest friends on the very first day – we’ve been friends ever since. The first year was tough, a lot of work and an intense caseload. The second year wasn’t as difficult. Forsyth really is a great school. I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I just loved the faculty. I still have my license! I’m never going to give that up since it was so hard to get.

Now I have two sons in college, David at MCPHS and Robert at Curry College.

MCPHS – Tell us about your family
Carla Gomes – After graduation I traveled to California and took my board examination. I worked in San Francisco for a year and a half. My brother had previously lived out there and reported that the money was good. I worked for a number of great dentists, one or two days, here and there. In California you work for yourself.

In 1982 I returned to Boston as I missed my family, and got married in 1983. I had grown up with the man I married, a doctor who graduated from MCPHS, and we remained in touch while I was in California. I worked in a dentist’s office located on the Boston waterfront until 1989 when I had my first son Robert. A year later I had my second son, David.

MCPHS – How did you end up owning two restaurants?
Carla Gomes – In 1993, when my sons were in preschool, my brother, who is a chef, was seeking to open a restaurant. Over Sunday dinner at my mother’s house, he discussed a restaurant opportunity. I asked him if he would mind having a female partner. On the following Tuesday we met in front of the restaurant that he wanted to buy, which is now Terramia. By Friday it was signed, sealed and delivered.

After two months of renovations, we opened and never looked back. “What the hell did I just do?” is all I kept asking myself.

Opening night arrived with no advertising; we had 75 customers. They looked at the menu and noticed differences from the usual North End fare. Be built our reputation by word of mouth. It was a hit.

I credit our chef Mario for changing the way that people eat in the North End. Mario brought authentic Italian to the North End. Originally, I didn’t know what he was doing but I learned quickly. That’s what you do in the restaurant business. Terramia was the first restaurant in the North End to serve anything close to authentic Italian cuisine.

In 1996, the owners of the property where our Antico Forno restaurant is now located were selling the property. So I talked to Mario about opening a pizza restaurant. Pizza is one of my favorite foods, and we had the first wood-burning brick oven stove in the North End. The second half of Antico’s name, Cucina a Legna, means “of wood.”

Terramia and Antico Forno, Cucina a Legna offer two different types of fare. Terramia is regional upscale Italian; Antico is more traditional. Everything in Antico goes through the brick oven. We get a lot of families, as well as a lot of couples, but families seem to prefer Antico Forno to Terramia.

MCPHS – Tell us about your son’s diabetes and learning about the condition
Carla Gomes – My son David was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on his first birthday. He had been sick, and was in Massachusetts General Hospital because he wasn’t breathing well. The doctors reported that if he lived through the night, he would have diabetes for the rest of his life. On his birthday, July 24, he had lived with diabetes for 21 years.

Fortunately we had a fantastic doctor. MGH and later the Joslin (Diabetes Center) provided us with incredible services that we needed as a family – a whole network of services with nurses, nutritionists, dietitians and child and parent support groups. To this day, when I call Joslin about an appointment for David, they know who I am the second they pick up the phone.

My son doesn’t know life without diabetes. Yet, I want him to know a life without diabetes. When they are born with diabetes, children go through a stage in life without a real concept of time. Yet, when he reached seven or eight years old he asked, “Am I going to have diabetes for the rest of my life?” David is studying pre-med at MCPHS, and is scheduled to graduate in 2013. I’m very proud.

MCPHS – What made you want to start raising money for Joslin?
Carla Gomes – Fundraising evolved because I needed to do something to give back to a place which had given us so much. With a restaurant, I had the venue to do something. I mean, who doesn’t like to eat?

“CityFeast: Dining out to conquer Diabetes” has always been held at my restaurants Terramia and Antico Forno. We hold it on the last Sunday in January because it’s a very quiet time in the restaurant world. – no football, not a lot going on. It has cost $150 per person since we started the event in 2006. Guests receive a five-course meal and wine pairings. Joslin receives proceeds of $100 from each ticket sold. In the past other North End restaurants, including Lucca, Tresca and Taranta have also joined in.

Every year we attract many elected officials, including Mayor Menino and his wife who have attended since the beginning. We’ve also had Celtics and Bruins players and their families, including Ray Allen’s wife Shannon, Dana Barros from the Celtics and Nick Boynton from the Bruins too. Boyton has Type 1 Diabetes. He was crucial in helping us get the word out early on, and we are already planning next year’s event!

This is my way of thanking the Joslin for everything they’ve done for us.

Joslin Diabetes Center honors Carla Gomes

John Brooks, David Gomes, Carla Gomes, and Keith Lockhart.
From left: John Brooks, David Gomes, Carla Gomes, and Keith Lockhart.

 

Pops maestro Keith Lockhart shared a laugh backstage at Symphony Hall with Joslin Diabetes Center president John Brooks and David Gomes, a patient whose mom, North End restaurateur Carla Gomes, was honored at Joslin’s annual Evening at Pops. The owner of Antico Forno and Terramia, Gomes organized “CityFeast,’’ a North End noshfest benefiting Joslin.

By Mark Shanahan and Meredith Goldstein Globe Staff  

A weekend of food and festivities

Carla Gomes, John Brooks, Francesca Bastarache, and Mayor Menino at the Joslin Diabetes Center’s 7th Annual CityFeast.
From left: Carla Gomes, John Brooks, Francesca Bastarache, and Mayor Menino at the Joslin Diabetes Center’s 7th Annual CityFeast.

Celeb chef Todd English was one of the famous faces at Mohegan Sun’s wine festival over the weekend. . . . Mayor Tom Menino , WGBH’s Emily Rooney , Joslin Diabetes Center CEO John Brooks , and City Councilor Sal Lamattina , were among the 200 who participated in the Joslin Diabetes Center’s 7th Annual CityFeast, an event founded by Antico Forno and Terramia owner Carla Gomes.

Read more …

By Mark Shanahan and Meredith Goldstein

Globe Staff / January 31, 2012