4 January 2023
Pane & Pasta's Reno Mancini was born and raised in Toronto, Canada to two Italian parents. His father, Romeo — a butcher by trade — emigrated in late 1956 and opened his first of three restaurants in the late 1960s when Reno was still a toddler.
“My dad and I were more than father and son; he was my best friend and mentor," Mancini said. "When he was away at work, my mom says I would cry a lot so the only solution was to go with him.”
Mancini started as casual support in his father’s restaurants at 8 years old. By 13, after two years of living and studying abroad in his parents’ hometown, he was bussing full-time after school. He began waiting tables at 18 before working his way up the ranks to a managerial role.
Though he chose to pursue a degree in accounting with marketing and promotions, Mancini had fallen in love with the restaurant business and continued to work with his father until the age of 32.
It was then, in 1997, he came to Cayman “on a five-day holiday with no intention of coming here to live.” A friend introduced him to Clemens Guettler, then-owner of The Wharf Restaurant.
“Clemens and I hit it off and he wanted me to come work for him,” he says. “But I had to discuss it with my parents; in our tradition, you don’t just pick up and leave.”
With his parents’ blessing to explore a new opportunity, Mancini moved to Cayman on what was intended to be a short-term basis. One year became two, two became five and five became 20. After 20 years and almost 700 special events at The Wharf, Mancini became the general manager at Hemingway’s, where he served for just over a year.
Then, Mancini, who had remained single all his life, finally found a love that could stand up to what he calls his “pure love” for the restaurant business. In 2019, he was introduced to his future wife, and after travelling to meet her in the Philippines and a whirlwind romance, they married in spring of 2020 and welcomed their son, Romeo (named after Mancini’s late father) in January.
Mancini took 27 months off during the pandemic, taking a slower pace of life with daily beach walks, local exploration and settling into his new life as husband and father. But in July, the fellow Italian owners of Pane & Pasta, Paolo and Marie-Angela Castello, invited him to sign on as a partner in their business. He has since worked alongside his partners and Head Chef Amedeo Masala to re-envision Pane & Pasta’s menu — including Italian classic sandwiches, doughnuts, freshly baked bread, homemade pasta and even a soon-to-come cheese wheel.
Though competition and expectations in the restaurant business are higher than ever, Mancini says he feels like he’s coming home. Finding love in his personal life and returning to Italian cuisine, where it all began, has been the completion of his circle.
“The first ingredient is love,” he says. “That’s something my dad always taught me — to have love for myself first and then to extend that to others.”
Through sharing his passion at Pane & Pasta, Mancini hopes to spread love to his industry colleagues and to every guest, from every part of the world, who walks through their restaurant doors.
This article was originally published in the December 2022 print edition of Camana Bay Times.