Meridian Industrial

DE NARDO'S FAMILY RESTAURANT

2020-12-21 | Keith O'Connor

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A love for one another, their pursuit of good food, and the opportunity in America that awaited them brought Salvatore and Carmela De Nardo from Bracigliano, Italy to Springfield in 1982, where they would eventually open De Nardo’s Family Restaurant in East Longmeadow.

When the couple made their trip from Italy to America, they brought some of their traditional family Italian cooking recipes with them that now make up a menu of fresh oven baked pizzas to assorted pasta dishes and grinders.

What makes a De Nardo’s pizza and many of their pasta and other dishes different from the competition is the ingredients, noted Marco De Nardo, who is the restaurant’s head cook manager.

“We like to make it authentic Italian as much as possible, and we bring in as many products from Italy as we can. Our sauce (Mutti) comes from Northern Italy and has no additives. My family owns an olive grove in Italy, so my father is very picky about the Italian olive oil we use, as he used to make his own olive oil,” De Nardo said.

“You know you have good olive oil when you put a little of it in the palm of your hand and move your hands together really quick for a few seconds. It breaks the oil down and if you can smell the olives you know it’s a good oil,” Salvatore De Nardo said about a trick his father taught him.

De Nardo’s is truly a family restaurant from the customers they call family to a staff that in addition to Salvatore and Carmela includes their sons Marco and Andrea, who share kitchen duties with their parents. Their late son, Franco, was also active in the restaurant. The couple’s daughter, Cristina, runs the front of the house, including the dining room and take out. Also, Salvatore and Carmela’s brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews have always been there to help when needed from delivering food, working in the kitchen, or serving tables.

“As kids we would always be at the restaurant to help our parents with putting together pizza boxes, washing dishes, and cleaning tables. It wasn’t until our teens that we became more interested in the business,” De Nardo said, who attended Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island for restaurant management and later earned a degree in accounting from Western New England University.

The De Nardo Family Restaurant menu consists of a variety of tasteful options from their delicious pizzas and calzones to pasta, chicken, veal, eggplant and seafood meals, as well as a variety of sandwiches, grinders and wraps.

In addition to their “Build Your Own Pizzas,” Combo and Vegetarian, De Nardo’s offers some 13 specialty and gourmet pizzas to choose from including Meat Lovers, Clam, Margarita, BBQ Chicken, Steak Stir Fry and the MacDaddy topped with hamburger, pickles, cheese, onions, shredded lettuce and thousand island dressing.

“Our most popular pizzas are Combo, Buffalo, California, and, of course, Cheese. Our Combo pizza, which consists of pepperoni, hamburger, and fresh peppers, has always been a big hit. Our Buffalo pizza, which is bleu cheese dressing and crispy chicken tossed in buffalo sauce, really became a hit in the late’90s to early 2000 with the perfect combination of chicken, buffalo sauce and bleu cheese. Our MacDaddy pizza is a new favorite. Of course, you can’t forget the popular Cheese pizza. We’ve been using the same cheese (Grande Cheese) from when my father started in the ’80s and we refuse to change, mix, or blend our cheese. We can make either thick or thin crust, whichever you like, with our special dough,” De Nardo said.

Beyond the pizzas, the most popular dishes at De Nardo’s Family Restaurant are their Chicken and Veal Parmesan, Chicken Francaise, as well as Eggplant Rollatini and the De Nardo’s Special, which is a veal, eggplant and ham topped with sauce and mozzarella cheese.

“Every dish is prepared daily with fresh ingredients,” De Nardo said.

Even the pizza business has its busiest seasons.

“Halloween is a big pizza day for us, when many people, after getting out of work, stop in to pick up a pizza before going out trick-or-treating with their kids or to Halloween parties. Then we’re very busy from Thanksgiving to Christmas, but it dips a bit toward the end of January early February, after the holidays. Many people would think that Super Bowl Sunday is our big pizza day, but it’s our wings that are popular,” De Nardo said.

Like many businesses, especially restaurants, De Nardo’s Family Restaurant has felt the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“When the pandemic first hit, we were scared and worried. We wanted to try to stay ahead of the curve and we were in contact with our local health department to figure out what we could or couldn’t do. We couldn’t have people come in and sit down for a meal, which hurt us on our busier nights. However, we figured we would attempt to build upon our already strong takeout business. So, we started offering family style meals that fed some four to six people at a discounted price. My father refused to close our doors. He wanted to try to wait out the virus while continuing to serve customers who supported our family and helped sustain our business for the past 37 years. Our dining room is now open again with limitations on our capacity in order to help keep everyone safe,” De Nardo said.

De Nardo and several of his cousins toured Italy in the past years, and during one of their trips visited the restaurant, where the elder De Nardo baked his first pizza.

“When we returned home, we joked with my father that it was a hole in the wall, but the restaurant has actually been around for some 60 plus years,” De Nardo said, who noted the pizza business is much different in Italy.

“Pizza isn’t something eaten at lunchtime in Italy. Restaurants are busier from 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. when people go there to socialize and have a pizza,” he added.

De Nardo’s delivers to customers in East Longmeadow and Longmeadow and some other surrounding towns with a $10 minimum purchase required. Depending on the size of the party or function, De Nardo’s caters throughout Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut.

De Nardo’s Family Restaurant is located on 39 Maple St. in East Longmeadow, Mass.

Regular hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Monday. (At the time of this writing, due to the high number of coronavirus cases in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order requiring certain businesses to close at 9:30 p.m. However, those diners who enter a restaurant before that time can finish their food and drinks, but must be off the premises by 10 p.m.)

For more information, visit denardosrestaurant.com or call 413-525-3600

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