Portland News

Chef Francesco Calò Elevates the Culinary Experience through Via Toledo Enopizzeria

Chef Francesco Calò is a master pizza chef and founder of the brand Via Toledo. Born into a family of bakers in 1986 in Puglia, Italy, Calò grew up surrounded by the smells and creativity of baking. Despite his desire to join the police force, he enlisted in the Coast Guard and served in the Rimini Harbour Office. But the pull to return to his roots was too strong, and he left the Coast Guard to study the culinary arts, focusing on creatively interpreting Neapolitan pizza.

After obtaining his master’s degree and Neapolitan pizza instructor qualifications, Calò moved to Vienna to start his own gastronomic concept: Via Toledo Enopizzeria, a niche Neapolitan wine pizzeria. Since opening in 2016, the restaurant has received worldwide recognition, including the highly coveted “Golden Fork” award from Austrian national food guides and being named “Best Pizzeria in Austria” multiple times by the prestigious Italian ranking “50 Top Pizza.”

In 2019, Calò took home the prize of “Best Italian Pizzaiolo in the World” at the National Championship of Pizza Doc. And in 2020 and 2021, Via Toledo was awarded “Best Pizzeria in Austria,” “Second-Best Pizzeria in Europe,” “Best Performance of the Year,” and “Best Wine List.”

“Offering my own art and stepping out of the standardized schemes has always been a must for me,” Francesco said. 

Calò’s success with Via Toledo has made him a true pride of Italy, which has achieved immense success in a foreign market. He personally created his own blend of flours, named “Intensa,” to guarantee his customers a natural, healthy, tasty and unique pizza through the different kneading techniques. He has now decided to export his business model to Dubai, with the goal of establishing himself in the UAE and offering new customers an unparalleled culinary experience.

“My worst competitor is myself. I love to challenge myself. I don’t look at others, I listen to that little voice that often likes to challenge me, and then I act. To improve, to grow, to go further, that is my personal challenge that has led me to create something wonderful,” Francesco shared.

Furthermore, his experience of leaving behind his place of comfort to pursue his bigger dreams is truly an inspiration for go-getters everywhere. He insightfully said, “Although I had chosen to take a leap of faith by leaving everything behind by moving abroad and starting afresh, I was happy. I did not know what awaited me, but my motivation was strong, my hunger was incredible. And I am here today because of that; if I had stayed in my comfort zone for fear of an uncertain future, I certainly would not have achieved all that I have built with so much hard work and tenacity.”

With his vision of elevating pizza to the highest culinary experience using advanced production techniques, top-quality raw materials, slow food products, creating new balances and flavors, and pairing them with the best wines, Chef Francesco Calò is redefining how guests enjoy high-quality pizza and Via Toledo is a revolution in the pizza making game.

Opinions expressed by Portland News contributors are their own.