Chef Tom White:

The Creative Vision behind the Food

Tom White’s first foray into the food industry was as a butcher’s apprentice at the age of 14. His teenage years were spent learning the paces of a busy kitchen while he worked various restaurant jobs, from washing dishes to bussing and waiting tables to management. Barely in his 20’s and armed with the dream of one day owning his own restaurant, Tom moved to San Francisco to attend the famed California Culinary Academy (CCA).

California presented unmatched opportunity and Tom soon found himself rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest figures in the culinary world. While at the CCA, he entered many culinary competitions and upon graduation in 1984, was awarded the opportunity to live and work in Napa Valley as the Private chef for  Beringer Vineyards and several other notable wineries throughout the Napa and Sonoma area, where he often entertained celebrated chefs such as  Jacques Pépin, Jeremiah Tower, Alice Waters, and food writer M.F.K. Fisher.

Having graduated at the top of his class from the CCA, Tom enjoyed a successful run in the California gastronomic scene, including work at Spectrum Foods, Vivande Porte Via in San Francisco and Chianti Ristorante in Los Angeles. However, he longed to return to his home state and before long, rejoined his old friends Greg Atkin and Rick Post to open two of New Mexico’s most celebrated Italian eateries—Scalo Northern Italian Grill in Albuquerque and Pranzo Italian Grill in Santa Fe.

Always searching for inspiration, Tom took an extended sabbatical to live and work in Italy, and it was during his time there he became enamored with the various styles of cooking from ancient wood fired ovens. Impressed by the speed, yet high quality of traditionally fired food, he began piecing together the concept of a wood oven pizzeria combined with the elegant, yet casual atmosphere of some of his favorite California establishments.

Tom’s idea culminated in the opening of the first Il Vicino Wood Oven Pizza in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill in 1992, where his creative entrees are the focal point of the expansive menu. From familiar pizzas like our Margherita to contemporary favorites with ingredients like fiery shrimp, goat cheese or roasted chicken, the Il Vicino menu is a culmination of Chef White’s innovative vision and vast experience.