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Thoughts from Tom Cortopassi

Sharing Success: In Gratitude

As the holidays approach, I have spent some time counting our family’s blessings: continued good health, the success of each of our children in pursuing their individual dreams, and the ongoing success of our Independent restaurateur customers.

We especially feel blessed for the life of Dino and the example that he set for so many of us. Part of what made Dino so extraordinary was that, in addition to being a visionary thinker, he enjoyed teaching those insights to others, including our restaurateur customers.

Mangia e Bevi, Oceanside, CA

During Covid closures, the Trupiano family sustained their contemporary Italian ristorante by providing wholesome, customer-funded meals to those in need. Today, their dining room is back in full swing, delighting regulars with hand- crafted pasta entrees and Neapolitan pizzas, authentically prepared as they are in Italy.

To stand out from the crowd, Tore Trupiano chose not to offer Italian- American dishes widely available elsewhere. While this sometimes surprises newcomers, it also delights his regulars. Instead, his quarterly one-page menu offers a short-list of seasonal regional Italian dishes, plus a few house favorites.

Key Idea – Limiting his menu to ten pasta entrees allows Tore’s chef to get really good at coaxing unique flavors from a handful of seasonal recipes. It also ensures that “limited edition” ingredients are promptly used, ensuring optimal freshness. For menu appeal, Tore seeks uniquely flavorful dishes which also satisfy a range of customer dietary preferences. For example, his panelle Sicilian fried chickpea fritters are not just especially tasty antipasti, they also delight vegetarians.

Reworking his menu quarterly gives Tore many advantages. It allows him to highlight seasonal produce at its peak, like hearty pumpkin and squash recipes this fall.

Earning Staff Loyalty

During the pandemic, Dave Kuban challenged the odds by launching D&C’s Hometown Deli. Located 5 minutes from his original pizzeria, the two businesses compete in different dayparts. The neighborhood deli is busiest during breakfast and lunch, while the pizzeria is busiest during dinnertime.

Key Idea – While Dave had no deli experience, he applied the same business model which successfully built his pizzeria. He instituted online ordering, took credit cards, and used frequent social media posts to introduce his existing clientele to this second venture. To stand out from the crowd, he featured ultra-premium brands of cured meats and cheeses and freshly baked Italian bread from NY’s Arthur Avenue.

The backbone of Dave’s success is his closeknit staff. Even during the pandemic, his employee retention remained high as a result of his making their working together feel meaningful and appreciated.

Saturday Fun!

Key Idea – In her pizzeria, Zasa, owner Tara Hattan works to attract more young families by appealing to their youngest members. For example, she offers Saturday morning dough throwing classes for kids and their families, ending in a tasty pizza lunch! The reasonably priced family outing also gives Tara time to make friends with the parents as well, making them feel especially comfortable returning to her place. A Win-Win!

Tara Hattan, Owner
Zasa Pizza
Tulsa, OK

La Vera Cucina:

Pollo di Stefano

At Nonno’s Italian Restaurant in Altamonte Springs, Florida, locals enjoy a variety of Sicilian seafood specialties lovingly prepared by the LaCommare Family. Across multiple generations, a customer favorite has long been Pollo di Stefano. The dish was developed by owner Leonardo LaCommare’s father Stefano, who came over from Sicily as a young man. Whenever Leonardo prepares it, the aroma of freshly sauteing garlic, chicken, and fragrant sherry fondly reminds Leonardo of learning to cook by his father Stefano’s side!