When it comes to the never-ending quest to slim down, we’ve all heard about the success of the Atkins diet and eating Paleo. But one New York City chef used a far more revolutionary method to lose an astounding 94 pounds: the Pizza Diet.
Naples, Italy, native Pasquale Cozzolino, 38, moved to New York in 2011 to work at Midtown’s PizzArte, and he quickly packed on the pounds. The 6-foot-6-inch chef weighed a healthy 254 pounds when he first got off the plane, but his waistline expanded as he made efforts to familiarize himself with the city’s restaurants and turned to snacking to deal with stress.
“I’d eat 10 or 12 [Oreos],” recalls Cozzolino, who later moved to the East Village’s Ribalta pizzeria, where he’s now the executive chef. “One time I even ate the whole box. It was like a drug for me.” He was also drinking two or three cans of soda each day.
By early 2012, his weight had ballooned to 370 pounds, and he was wearing pants with a 48-inch waist.
When he visited his family in Italy, people didn’t recognize him. He felt awful both mentally and physically.
“I had knee problems, back problems, three ulcers in the stomach,” he recalls. He even had trouble taking his toddler son to the park because just walking there was so taxing.
The final wake-up call came in June 2015, when Cozzolino went to see his family doctor on the Upper East Side.
“She said, ‘You need to lose weight or you will have a heart attack,’” he remembers.