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Thoughts from Tom Cortopassi

On behalf of Stanislaus and Corto, Maureen and I thank many of you who shared condolences and memories upon the passing of my Uncle Dino Cortopassi in February. Dino treasured warm, personal relationships with our restaurateur customers and would have been moved, as we were, with your love and support!

Before Dino’s untimely passing, I had just finished a La Trattoria column about how the pandemic has strengthened the importance of personal connections. We held off printing this column in favor of a tribute to Dino’s career. I still feel strongly about the relevancy of this message, and hope that it resonates with you. Enjoy!

SUCCESS STORY: Nittany Pizza, York, PA

Within its eclectic college neighborhood, Nittany Pizza is known among York, PA, locals for great traditional pizza and is also popular among the area’s tightknit vegan community. Since owner Anathanasios “Tom” Drivas first added especially flavorful vegan options to his traditional menu a decade ago, sales in both categories have steadily grown. In fact, vegan items now account for a full 25% of Tom’s sales.

In many areas, a small but growing number of consumers face a variety of dietary limitations. When friends or family with multiple “dining styles” gather, finding mutually agreeable eateries where even “alternate” dishes taste awesome can be a challenge. One such place is Nittany Pizza.


“What’s Different About Us?”
Key Idea – That why we especially liked this message from pizzeria owner Derrick Tung which explains exactly why Paulie Gee’s Logan Square is such a cool place to belong!

We’re Hiring!!! I know, I know, lot of people are hiring. What’s different about us?

  • Make and eat some of the best pizzas made by some of the best crew. Woodfired, Detroit inspired, NY style, and a few other secret styles coming up!
  • Work with an amazing team that’s got talent and passion for what they do… from pizza making to eating to cocktails to service to desserts. We work hard and we have fun!
  • All our positions pay $XX to $YY an hour after tips. Yes, even the prep team and dishwasher. They’re important parts of the team too.
  • Know the story of our “secret staff member”! E. Get 50% off your bill at our restaurant. And a free drink each shift. And get kicked out when we close!
  • Work with a team that cares about each other and their local and global community. And we show it through local staff outings, fundraisers, charity events, and all sorts of other secret stuff coming up that I can’t talk about yet…but it’s going to be big!

So whaddya think? You interested? Know someone who is? Reach out with your resume and let’s get you on our team!

Combined with staff referral rewards, heartfelt personal ads like this one helped Derrick overcome the current labor shortage in order to staff a whole new location! Bravo!

Derrick Tung, Owner
Paulie Gee’s Logan Square
Chicago, IL

Takeout Window Growth

Key Idea – When restaurateur Maria Fox originally moved into her present location, she eliminated delivery in favor of installing a drive-up takeout window alongside the building. However, during the pandemic, the window has been a godsend which has helped sales steadily grow. Perhaps because many locals still feel uncomfortable about entering public spaces, this safe-feeling version of “curbside pickup” continues attracting 20 new customers weekly. And thanks to Maria’s great- tasting food, many return as regulars!

Maria Fox, Owner
Pizza Ria’s Too
Thurston, OH

La Vera Cucina: Nocatole

For restaurateur Paul Cataldo, whose family owns Antonio’s Ristorante in Elkhart, IN, the aroma of Calabrian Nocatole (no-cah-toll-eh) fried at Christmas or baked at Easter brings back warm childhood memories of helping his Nonna Concetta cook back in Calabria. As Paul says, every Calabrian village has its own version of this holiday bread, whose sweet dough is fried and rolled in sugar at Christmas or baked into various shapes for Pasqua (Easter).