Sommelier Paul Grieco of Hearth - Biography
New York, NY
Paul Grieco was practically born in a restaurant. His family owned and operated Toronto’s landmark restaurant La Scala, where he was thrust into the world of service and hospitality at a very young age. Fortunately, Grieco had a natural talent for playing host—not to mention polishing silverware.
But before Grieco decided to pursue a career in the restaurant business—he knew all too well the long hours and high pressure environment that came along with it—he took a two-month trip to Italy to study wine. Grieco returned a veritable Italian wine expert and sure of his place in the restaurant world. The budding sommelier spent the next six years working with his father and grandfather at La Scala, overseeing the beverage program and managing the front-of-the-house staff.
In 1991, another one of Grieco’s studying trips resulted in a life-changing decision: this time he went to New York City for a three-month sojourn, and he never left. His career in Manhattan began at Remi Restaurantwhere he was a dining room manager for two years; he then honed his service skills at top-notch places, like Bouley, Gotham Bar and Grill, Gabriel’s, and Judson Grill, which he opened with his mentor Chris Cannon in 1994.
Grieco’s next challenge was at Gramercy Tavern. He accepted a job as a waiter at the three-star restaurant, where he hoped to learn the aspects of "enlightened hospitality" from its creators Danny Meyer and Tom Colicchio. After two years, Grieco was promoted to assistant general manager; during his tenure Gramercy Tavern won both the James Beard Awards for Outstanding Service in 2001 and for Outstanding Wine Service in 2002.
In 2004, Grieco and chef-partner Marco Canora opened Hearth in the East Village; Insieme followed in 2007. The duo’s first and second wine bars, Terroir, opened in 2008 and 2010, which are as much outposts for wine lovers to experience terroir-driven wines as they are platforms for Grieco to preach the attributes of his carefully curated wine list.