Kianti’s Crew Puts New Spin on Pizza

“Not only did Roberto Vincenze Castagno have a fairly unusual skill to master, he had big shoes to fill. It may have taken six months of practice, but Castagno, 25, can be seen performing the Whip, the Sky-High and a host of acrobatic tricks Friday and Saturday evenings at Kianti’s Pizza and Pasta Bar on Pacific Avenue. Castagno is a pizza spinner at the downtown restaurant that has become known for putting on a show for its customers — literally.”

“Castagno was mentored by Justin Wadstein, who began working in the kitchen when Kianti’s opened Jan. 3, 2004. After discovering acrobatic spinning competitions, Wadstein approached Kianti’s co-owners Tracy Parks-Barber and Kelly Kissee and asked if the restaurant would support him. ‘We took Justin to Las Vegas for the World Pizza Games, and he did really well,’ said Parks-Barber, who is Wadstein’s aunt. ‘There, we got a good idea of what the competition was about. When I realized they were doing acrobatic routines to music, I started combining the two in our show.”‘

“Castagno wasn’t even aware of the show when he was first hired as a waiter four years ago. After about a month, he told management that he’d like to work weekends, but nearly changed his mind when he found out what exactly would be required of him. Watching Wadstein, an eight-time world champion in acrobatic pizza spinning who is currently out on medical leave, worked his magic in the shows that inspired Castagno to leave his newly found dancing days behind.”