Joe Cannistraci is co-owner and architect behind Enoteca La Storia’s success as an authentic Italian eatery and purveyor of fine wines from around the world. Born in New York and raised in northern New Jersey, Joe’s “100 percent Sicilian” roots took hold in the US shortly after World War I. Joe’s paternal grandfather, Lorenzo, great-grandfather, Andrea, and great uncle, Carmelo, ran a successful Italian grocery store on New York City’s Lower East Side for many years. Equally influential on Joe was his relationship with his maternal grandfather, Calogero Bellina, who taught him the purest and most enduring southern Italian sensibilities, including how to manage a garden and grow tomatoes. To this day, Joe travels back to the hometown of his ancestors in Sicily to spend time with his cousins, cooking, eating, and, of course, drinking good wine. It is this authentic Italian heritage, still very much alive in Joe’s life, that he draws on to provide guests a truly unforgettable Italian experience at Enoteca La Storia.
Joe started his urban farm that supplies Enoteca la Storia with 3,000–4,000 pounds of vine-ripened tomatoes each year and has developed a cult following among tomato lovers throughout the entire Bay Area. He focuses on building and maintaining a healthy microbiological environment in the soil in which he grows tomatoes. Joe feels the concept of terroir applies to tomatoes as well as wine; it’s all about the soil. He does not use chemical pesticides or fertilizers at any time.
Joe resides in Los Gatos with his family. He can be found most days at Enoteca La Storia running the show, forming rich, close relationships with artisanal winemakers; sharing his knowledge about wines, food, and culture with guests, friends, and famiglia; and, of course, growing tomatoes.