Adriana Giramonti was born in Presenzano, Italy on May 24, 1929. She grew up in a small Italian village near Monte Cassino. The fear, the noise of combat, and, above all, the hunger, form a somber backdrop to her daily life and give impetus to her cooking. When the German troops began their retreat, they stripped the village of food and material. “We were always hungry” Adriana once said. Her favorite story was receiving a kiss on the cheek from Mussolini for winning an art prize.
She moved to Rome after the war, and with her mother Clotilde Silvestri, learned how to feed large groups of people, simply and well. One of five children, she quickly acquired a familiarity with the Roman markets and with recipes that were quick, yet wonderfully flavorful.
In 1956, she moved to the USA’s North Beach in San Francisco and eventually met her husband, Nino, a waiter in several San Francisco restaurants. She worked at Little Joe’s for over 15 years before opening Giramonti’s in 1977. Their menus, as well as the outdoor sign bear the initials S.P.Q.R., the inscription seen throughout Rome on public works and municipal buildings. The letters represented the Latin motto translated roughly as “FOR THE PEOPLE of ROME” a phrase perfectly descriptive of Adriana’s Roman culinary heritage and cooking method, which was essentially home-style permeated by love and intelligent care.
In 1982, the Great Chefs television team showed up in Mill Valley to tape Chef Adriana Giramonti for their second PBS television series, Great Chefs of San Francisco, which aired in 1983. It has since aired on the Discovery Channel, Travel Channel and currently is seen around the world on FoodPlanet, Twitch and SmallScreenTV. In 1985 she opened Adriana’s in San Rafael, California.
On June 6th, 2016, Chef Adriana Giramonti passed away at the age of 87.