Like many Italian-Americans, North-End native Carla Agrippino Gomes, owner and general manager of Terramia and Antico Forno, grew up on her mother’s Italian cooking. Then in 1993, she opened Terramia and her perception of authentic Italian cuisine was changed forever.
Prior to becoming involved in the restaurant business, Carla was a graduate of The Forsyth Dental Hygiene School at Northeastern University. Upon graduation she moved to California to work and expand her studies in Dental Hygiene. She worked as a dental hygienist for 10 years before her children were born. Although, extremely busy at the time raising her two young boys, Carla was interested in getting into the restaurant business and opened Terramia with former partner Mario Nocera in August of 1993.
“I was intrigued by the food Mario was preparing,” Carla remembers. “The presentation was exquisite and the cuisine wasn’t like any Italian food I had ever tasted.”
The first few months after Terramia opened, she remembers were the toughest. “I didn’t realize how much work went into opening a restaurant; however, it didn’t take long for the Terramia concept to catch on.” People either read the menu and came in wanting to try something different or read the menu and walked away hoping to find a restaurant that served chicken parmigiana Still, Agrippino-Gomes remained confident that Terramia would succeed. She evokes the movie “Field of Dreams” when saying “I knew that if we built a restaurant serving authentic Italian cuisine, people would come.” And indeed they did.
In August 1996, three years after the opening of Terramia, Carla opened her second restaurant, Antico Forno, Cucina a Legna, across the street. The meaning, “Old Oven, Kitchen of Wood, was used to describe the wood burning authentic Southern Italian cuisine and pizza, which was completely different from Terramia. Antico Forno was the first and only wood burning brick oven pizza in the neighborhood. Like Terramia, people flocked to Antico Forno to try the pizza and Italian rustic country fare. Carla credits Nocera and happily boasts, "Mario Nocera has single-handedly changed the face of Italian cuisine in the North End".
In 2008, Antico Forno was expanded from 45 seats to 80 seats and also added a bar which serves beer, wine and cordials. Agrippino Gomes made sure that if Antico Forno expanded it had to retain the same warmth and coziness that it had originally. And that she did!
Carla participates in numerous benefits and charities in the North End and the surrounding Boston area. Over the last 10 years she has been committed to fundraising for The Joslin Diabetes Center and The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). She began CityFeast: Dining Out To Conquer Diabetes to benefit The High Hopes Fund at Joslin Diabetes Center, which takes place every year on the last Sunday in January. This cause is very near and dear to Carla's heart! She has been committed to both these organizations since her son David was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on his 1st birthday. It is her way of "thanking" the institution for taking incredible care of her son over the last 20 years.