In 1997 Mauro attended the prestigious Hotel and Restaurant School in Ferrara where he graduated as Restaurant Director. Thanks to this training, he was selected to be a server for highranking military personnel during his mandatory Italian military service. It was during this time that he learned first hand about top service. Following military service, Mauro moved to Florence in 1998 where he attended the three-year long Italian Sommelier Association Program. While attending school, Cirilli worked as Sommelier at the celebrated il Cibreo, where he met his wife, Carol. Following il Cibreo, Cirilli went on to work as Assistant Sommelier at the renowned La Rivista in the Hotel Ca’ Pisani in Venice. During his time in Venice, Mauro also had stints at five star hotels including Hotel Baglioni and Hotel Danieli. Mauro’s wife wished to return to the States and the pair relocated to the Bay Area in 2001.
Mauro Cirilli recalls his first grape harvest. It was 1981 in the town of Monselice near Venice. He was five years old and walked the family vineyard with his grandfather who was testing the fruit for ripeness. For his grandfather, wine making was not a serious venture but a fundamental part of life, something to enjoy with friends and family along with his home cured salami. Mauro remembers, “The majority of the time Nonno’s wine was not excellent – it was a hobby for him and things didn’t always turn out well, but I remember my first harvest when his friends gathered around the outdoor table enjoying the wine, the salami and each other from that day on I understood the joy of food and wine shared with friends.”
Upon arriving in San Francisco, Cirilli accepted a position as Assistant Sommelier at the popular Aqua Restaurant. He was soon promoted to Lead Sommelier. He spent four years there before opening Perbacco as Wine Director in 2006. With the Perbacco team, Mauro also opened Barbacco Eno Trattoria in 2010, implementing the first interactive wine list on iPads on the west cost. At both restaurants, Cirilli composed some of the more notable wine lists in San Francisco, including an extensive selection of “orange wines.”
In 2011 Cirilli was partner on the formation of the North American Sommelier Association, affiliated with the Italian Sommelier Association, creating the first “Italian Wine Specialist” certification program recognized throughout the world and endorsed by the WSA (Worldwide Sommelier Association).