Carolyn Allen


Carolyn Allen-Samavarchian — daughter of Paolo's founder, Jack Allen — carries on her father's legacy as Paolo's general manager and executive chef. As a young woman pursuing her interests in philosophy, journalism, English literature and travel, she had no intention of following in the family business, but she also inherited her father's passion for cooking.

Fate intervened in 1979 when her mother, Geri Allen, died, leaving the day-to-day management of Paolo's to Carolyn and her sister, Jenny. Jenny eventually left the family business, but Carolyn has remained at the helm of the venerable local institution. Over the years, Carolyn has continued to travel, especially throughout Italy, bringing home her culinary inspirations from abroad.

Carolyn is on the board of directors for the California Culinary Academy Educational Foundation. She is also a freelance food writer and regular contributor to the San Jose Mercury News. Carolyn is an enthusiastic concertgoer and loves all types of music, from rock and bluegrass to mariachi and opera. She adores singing while she drives and entertaining family and friends at home.

Jalil Samavarchian

Maître d’ and Sommelier

Jalil Samavarchian was born in 1946 in Tabriz, Iran, near the Turkish border. In 1969, he immigrated to California to attend college on a soccer scholarship and graduated from San Jose State University with a Masters in Industrial Education. During his college years he financed his education by waiting tables at many fine dining establishments in the Bay Area, including Paolo's.

Jalil worked within his professional field for several years, but his love of the restaurant business never left him. In 1981, he returned to Paolo's, and in 1985 became Paolo's maitre d'/sommelier. In 1991, Jalil married Paolo's second-generation owner, Carolyn Allen, the same year Paolo's moved to its RiverPark location in downtown San Jose.

Jalil is the creator of Paolo's awarding winning signature drink, Ombretta di Paolo, and Paolo's Wine Spectator Best of Excellence awarding winning wine list. He is an avid tennis player, a member of the 1966 Iranian junior Olympic soccer team and an unparalleled barbequer. Jalil enjoys wine collecting and tending his rose garden.