Raised alongside Sicilian grandparents, Frank Pullara spent a lot of his childhood in the kitchen cooking authentic Italian recipes. "I love just cooking pasta, and making ragus and sauces. There's a lot of finesse to making pasta." The early memories of cooking with his grandparents shaped his first solo restaurant endeavour, Culaccino, located in downtown Franklin on Main Street. Pullara says, "I wanted to pick an area that had an up and coming restaurant scene, and Franklin was a great opportunity. I fell in love with this area - just walking up and down the street and feeling how welcoming everyone was."
Frank originates from Mequon, Wisconsin where he studied culinary arts through the American Culinary Federation's apprenticeship program, working his way up from sous chef to executive chef. He eventually moved to Naples, FL where he worked for the acclaimed Campagna Hospitality Group. It was 2020 before Frank and his family made their way to the Nashville area to open his own restaurant. "It's been a huge learning experience for me. I'm more than just the guy in the kitchen doing the menus. There are insurance plans, negotiating leases, hiring staff, stuff like that. It was a huge learning curve," says Pullara.
The restaurant named after the Italian word for the 'lasting impression' a cold glass leaves on a wooden table, is booming. Culaccino's wood-fired pizzas, fresh pastas, distinctive entrees, enticing wines and creative libations are drawing in crowds.
Any kitchen disaster stories? Pullara laughingly says, "We were without gas for a little while. Luckily, I have a lot of wood burning equipment. And I have a great neighbor at the Bakehouse who let me use her kitchen. I was running up and down the halls between the two places. It was fun. We got through it and the guests never even realized a thing. Afterwards, I was like 'wow.'"
And while Pullara would love to open more restaurants in the middle Tennessee area, he says, for now, "I feel very lucky and very fortunate. Everything has fallen in to place."