Pechanga Resort & Casino proudly welcomes Bruno Amato as its new head chef of Paisano’s Italian restaurant. A native of the Calabria region of Italy, Chef Amato injects his innate knowledge of traditional Italian fare and flavors to make Paisano’s dishes approachable, contemporary, yet authentic to his home country.
Bruno Amato grew up in the 7,000-person town of Nicotera in Calabria, Italy. A popular fishing village, Bruno enjoyed casting ropes and hooks from rocks into the ocean to catch seafood. During his childhood, his mother worked in a neighborhood restaurant kitchen. After school and on weekends, Bruno went to the restaurant to help her. This would be his first taste of culinary life, and he would later develop an affinity for cooking fish. From the dishwashing station, he watched the chefs work frenetically creating their specialties. He continued to assist his mom and when he was 14, decided culinary was the direction he would take his career. After high school, he enrolled in culinary school, free for all interested students in Italy. Following graduation, he moved to Guestalla, Italy to become a line cook. His subsequent gastronomic tour of Italy lasted 20 years and took him to Ostia, Milan, Rome and other well-known locales, working at some of the top restaurants and resorts in the country.
A newspaper ad in search of head chef for a resort in Indianapolis, Indiana brought him to the United States for the first time. Chef Amato answered the want ad, the resort flew him to Indianapolis for a food presentation, and offered him the job on the spot. After Indianapolis, his restaurant tour of America ensued. He held top chef positions at fine dining establishments in La Jolla, Calif., Las Vegas, Virginia, Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area, until Pechanga Resort & Casino came knocking.
“I love cooking for people because it gives me the chance to improve myself every day,” said Amato. “When the food goes to each table, I watch the customers’ faces. To see their reactions makes me happy.”
Amato said he has changed some of the presentation and taste of the dishes since arriving at Paisano’s. “A food stylist here for a photo shoot a little while back told me my pizza was the best she’d ever eaten. I was amazed. She came here from Los Angeles, so that was nice to hear.”
Amato was also winner of the Top Chef of Sacramento Award, and has appeared on numerous television network cooking segments.
A motorcycle rider and self-described huge soccer fan, Amato gets 400 cable channels at his house just so he can watch a few stations that carry Roma games for him, and Barcelona games for his 10-year old son. He also has a 13-year old daughter and is married.