Until last year, Giuliana Rancic anchored E! News, reporting scoops on the likes of the Kardashians and Taylor Swift. She continues to host the network’s Fashion Police and lead its red-carpet coverage during awards season. She’s also a restaurateur: This spring, she and her husband, Bill—who won the first season of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice—opened RPM Italian in Mount Vernon Square. Rancic now lives in Bill’s native Chicago. But before she found success in Hollywood and beyond, she was a kid with a perm and braces in Bethesda. Here, the Walt Whitman High School graduate reflects on growing up in the suburb and whether she’d move back if The Donald were elected and had an administration spot for her husband.
Did you always live in Bethesda?
My family moved from Naples, Italy, to Washington when I was seven. We were supposed to come for a two-week vacation, which turned into a lifetime. My uncle had opened a very popular restaurant in the late ’70s called Tiberio, on K Street. We stayed with [him and his family], in the basement. My dad was a master tailor. He thought, “There are a lot of sharp-looking men here. Maybe I can open up a store.” My parents went back to sell our place, and that was it. We moved to the Kenwood apartments in Bethesda.
You went to public school?
Yeah, but I didn’t speak English, and none of the teachers spoke Italian, so they would speak to me in Spanish. It was tough. We moved to Springfield, then my father opened a store in White Flint Mall, so we moved back to Bethesda. We lived in Al Marah off River Road. I remember seeing that house for the first time and my jaw dropped. To me, it was the most beautiful house—we had a swimming pool. My dad opened another store, Eduardo, in Georgetown Park. He dressed Plácido Domingo. We were living the American dream.
What was it like growing up in Bethesda?
It felt like a typical suburban experience. But once I lived in different places, I realized how city-like it was, how incredibly international my group was. I lived in an Italian household. To our left was a family from Saudi Arabia. To our right was a family from Korea. My two best girlfriends in high school were born in Argentina. I thought everyone growing up in America had that experience.
Where did you hang out?
We used to go to Pines of Rome for their white pizza. Also, Bethesda Bagels was my spot. Roy Rogers on River Road next to the 7-Eleven—I don’t think it’s there anymore. I used to go after school for lunch, or we’d sneak off when we were seniors. I would get my hair cut at Rainbow in White Flint Mall.
Do you still have family here?
My parents still live in our childhood home. I come back once or twice a year. I shoot my dad’s commercials for his store [DePandi on Wisconsin Avenue] when I’m home. Now that my husband and I opened the restaurant, we’ll be there like once a month.
What were you like in high school?
I was more focused on my social life than my homework and going to class. Whitman was a great school, but I wasn’t one of the best students. I was a cheerleader. I still got a lot out of school. It helped me build my personality, which is what helped me get my job at E! years later when I went to Los Angeles.
Would you move home if your husband were offered a place in a Trump administration?
I don’t talk politics. But Bill thinks DC is an incredible city. This is a great place to grow up as a kid, but it’s also a great place to be a parent and have a kid.
This article appears in our September 2016 issue of Washingtonian.