“I grew up cooking,” said Pia Goff. “I was rolling pasta when I was four years old.” With her husband, Goff owns on Beach Boulevard in Gulfport. The homey Italian venue gives off a relaxed yet sophisticated vibe. It’s the kind of place where you can be in flip flops and a tee-shirt but at the same time you can also enjoy a meal worthy of a five-star rating.
Goff and her husband, Tom, met in Venezuela and then relocated to Germany where they raised four children. The two spent nearly 15 years in Germany as Pia ran her own restaurant.
Eventually the Goffs made their way back to Tom’s native, Florida; all the while Pia Goff was missing one thing: home. Home is where the food is- good food. “I was homesick for Italian food,” said Goff. “That’s why I started a restaurant here.”
They landed in Tom’s hometown, Sarasota first but after some research they decided to give Gulfport a whirl. “We bought a house over here and that’s how all of this started,” remembered Goff. There was a space available for rent on Beach Boulevard and the Goffs secured the spot.
It was six years ago when Pia’s Trattoria first opened its doors. There were about eight tables total and they only served a few dishes. “I thought ‘let’s start little,’” said Goff. Pasta and panini were the main items that Pia’s offered in its opening.
From there, the restaurant gained momentum and has grown into a full outdoor patio of about 15 tables plus a complete dining room with about 12 tables. What’s interesting is that the Goffs grew Pia’s Trattoria completely organically.
There was no contractor, no construction workers and no interior designer. From the hand-painted walls to the decorations that were personally transported from Italy, the entire restaurant is a testament to the Goff’s hard work.
Pia’s managed to skip the downward spiral of the economy. “We actually expanded in the toughest times,” said Goff. Pia says that word of mouth marketing is the main source of the restaurant’s success.
Goff uses the freshest ingredients in her daily plates. “I want to have pure Italian food and I want it to be fresh,” Goff said.
She likes to keep the menu small so that customers can always count on something different rather than having a full set menu. Goff is far too creative to settle for a menu that is set in stone.
Pia Goff says that she and husband, Tom have no intention of expanding outside of their Gulfport location. For Pia, running a business is not about the money or the status. It’s about having a job that she loves. “I don’t want to get rich,” said Goff. “I just want to pay my bills and have a nice life.”