Young Francesco Illiano had two great passions; soccer and restaurants. At just eight years of age he was spending his afternoons as a right defender, taking the ball away from the opposing team's best striker, and his evenings washing dishes in the midst of a bustling bistro kitchen.
Shortly after his 12th birthday, and already developing the skills of an expert pizza chef, he left home to live with an older sister and work full time in a traditional Italian family restaurant.
Then, in his early twenties, he arrived in the United States to work at a friend's restaurant. In 1983 he took ownership of a small Westminster, Maryland pizzeria andsub shop known as "New York J&P Pizza" - and the first chapter of this great American success story had been written.