Chef Gabriele Lamonaca is known for his pizza. Throughout the pandemic, he traded his pies with others instead of charging them. Instead of cash, he provided pizza for wine, artwork and other foods. He connected with people on Instagram.

What You Need To Know

  • Chef Gabriele Lamonaca lost his job managing a pizzeria in the pandemic and instead started bartering pizzas with friends for wine, artwork or other foods 

  • He connected with people on social media and became known for his elaborate pizza barters 

  • He opened his own pizzeria called "Unregular Pizza" 

  • Lamonaca said making pizza was his healthy outlet to help him cope during the pandemic

"Today, we are here to barter pizza, for I don't know what,"  Lamonaca said.

For the one year anniversary of his barters, he got a surprise performance in Union Square by a performer in a pink fur suit congratulating him on all he has accomplished in the pandemic.

He got a picture from a friend with whom he did the first barter.

He was unemployed throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

"I lost my job at the pizzeria I was managing, and I started making pizza. Every day I was making a different pie,"  Lamonaca said.

What started as safe outdoor meetups while critiquing his recipes, became a stepping stone to his dream of becoming a restaurateur. He originally came to the U.S. from Rome in 2008.

"The idea was to become a doctor," Lamonaca said. "I went to college to study chemistry in college. I worked in the restaurant industry and I fell in love."

He opened his own restaurant two weeks ago with the fitting name, Unregular Pizza.

"The dough is matured for many, many hours -- in this case, 72 hours," Lamonaca said.

Lamonaca said making pizza was his healthy outlet to help him cope during the pandemic.

"The pandemic was devastating for everything. Making pizza is what really made me happy every day during the pandemic. It really helped me go through the rough moment," Lamonaca said. "Social relationships were at stake and to barter was a chance for me to get out of my apartment having a purpose."

A method of connecting with others in a dark time transformed into a business.