Caroline D’Amore has been a DJ and a model but she is now the head chef and co-owner of D’Amore Pizza. The family pizzeria has eight locations and recently expanded to include a food truck that hosts events around Los Angeles.
Crain’s Los Angeles spoke with D’Amore, 33, about her career and, of course, pizza.
Growing up with pizza
My grandparents and my great grandparents, they were all amazing chefs. My father came out to Los Angeles to be an actor, but my mom passed away and my dad had to come up with something quick to pay for his four little girls.
He hated the pizza in Los Angeles. He thought it was terrible. My dad flew in my great grandmother and she said she needed her water from her sink in her kitchen in Boston. She had her husband fly from Boston with a bottle of water to make the crust. D’Amore Pizza was called the Pizza Connection back then. The water was the connection.
I grew up in pizza restaurants. My dad would make us wear these really embarrassing shirts that said “Pizza Girls.” We would help out and do our homework in the restaurants. It became who we were.
Becoming a DJ and modeling,
As you become a teenager, you want nothing to do with your family at one point. I wanted nothing to do with pizza, nothing to do with kitchens, nothing to do with cooking. I walked into a club one night and I saw DJ AM performing and said that’s what I want to do. I want to be a DJ.
My dad thought it was crazy but I became successful. I traveled the world DJing.
A modeling agent came up to me one day and was like “do you want to be a model?” And I said “can I make enough money to move out of my house?” And he said “probably.” So I was modeling and DJing. It didn’t take talent or hard work. It was something I tried out and paid some bills with.
Back to her roots
After awhile, I became very lonely and missed that big Italian family vibe. I traveled all over the world but sought out Italian restraints. I would sit in them and feel connected to home. I realized something was missing in my life. I met the love of my life, a drummer, and we got married, got pregnant and I ended up wanting to cook for my daughter. The food that’s out there, we don’t know what’s in it and I wanted to know what I was putting in her body.
It came back naturally. We decided to open our own restaurant while we had a baby. We bought the location on 3rd Street and thought it would just run itself. Watching it go on around you and being the one to run and operate it are two totally different things. I found out the hard way when cooks didn’t show up. My 70-year-old father came in and helped me. I felt like I came full circle. Now I can make everything on the menu perfectly. Now its not a threat if somebody doesn’t come in. I can do it all and its something I love so much.
Expanding the business
I ended up building a catering division for D’Amores with the pizza truck. It’s one thing after another. It’s so exciting. I love being in the shop and in the truck creating recipes.
At first I though I’d open up 50 more D’Amore locations but then we started developing Pizza Girl sauce and it was something I was able to do from home. I was making all the recipes and doing taste tests.
We’re almost there and it’s available for preorder now at pizzagirl.info. It will be at all eight D’Amore locations and online. I hope it will be at other stores as well.