Connection : un collegamento

My husband and I met eight years ago (but more on that later). He is Italian; I am American. I had studied to be an architect; he worked long hours as a bartender. But as our lives became one, so did our dream: to operate a food business of our own. We were never sure what that would look like – a restaurant, a café, a foodtruck? But we always knew that we would call it Mano Bella.

Early in our courtship, Raffaele would take my hand saying, “Dammi la mano bella” – which roughly translates to “Give me your (beautiful) hand.” And as the years went by and our love for each other grew, so did our love for food.

We moved from Los Angeles to Charlotte with the idea that we would find more opportunity (and affordability) to realize our dream. For the first couple years, we settled in and got to know the city and its diverse inhabitants. Raffaele found work as a chef and I sort of bopped around from one thing to another, looking for some kind of direction forward.

They say “necessity is the mother of invention.” We wanted to create Mano Bella because of our love and passion for food but the decision to finally set out and create Mano Bella Artisan Foods was out of sheer necessity. COVID made all of us stop and re-evaluate. Six months into the pandemic and I was still out of work. Raffaele was working overtime to make ends meet until one day in August, we was hospitalized for, essentially, working too hard (that’s a WHOLE other story, too).

It was a wake up call. One we needed. We needed change. We needed to evolve with the stress of the situation or be crushed by it. And so, Mano Bella was born.

Mano Bella Artisan Foods exists to fulfill a need. The need for authentic, artisanal foods that have been overlooked or, worse, forgotten in a world moving further and further into the modern age. Simply because we have the resources to make food quickly and efficiently, doesn’t mean there is less value in making that same thing from scratch. In fact, if anything, there is more value. There is a connection with the food and with each other that is priceless and so engrained in the Italian way of life. We need that in our lives, too. Mano Bella is here to help.