It all started in a little town outside of Naples, Italy. Bracigliano, known for its tasty pizza and Italian food, was home to the Ferrentino family. When the Ferrentinos made their way to America in the 1970’s, their authentic family recipes came with them, and formed the basis for the family’s successful group of restaurants in Massachusetts and Connecticut. With the March opening of Mario’s Pizzeria and Ristorante in Somers, Connecticut, business partners Mario Ferrentino and Nikko Plescia have added to the legacy begun by Alfonso and Teresa Ferrentino when they opened Teresa’s Restaurant in 1980 in Ware, Massachusetts. Since then, Ferrentino family members have opened Francesco’s Restaurants in Suffield, Connecticut and Brimfield, Massachusetts.
Mario Ferrentino, of course, grew up working in the family restaurants, and Nikko began working at Teresa’s when he was only 15 years old, eventually becoming a close family friend. He says, “I started out at Teresa’s as a dish boy as a young teenager, and put my time in and worked my way up to be able to make pizzas, and cook dinners behind the line. I worked off and on at Teresa’s for many years, and when Mario approached me about the opportunity of partnering up on a new place in Somers, it was something I couldn’t pass up.”
They both have a very hands-on role at Mario’s. Together, they gutted the site of the former pizzeria located in the Southfield Corners Shops, and now, Mario says, “everything is brand new in the kitchen and dining room. We have true Italian food, using family recipes that came over from the old country. All of our family’s restaurants are built on the word “family.” At their places they all have family portions, family atmosphere, and of course, family recipes. All of our family’s establishments have a lot of similar menu items, with recipes being passed down from generation to generation. That being said, each place also has its own unique style that sets it apart from the others.”
He added, “A major difference between Mario’s and the rest of our family’s restaurants is that we offer delivery service. Delivery is something we felt was definitely necessary, with no one else really delivering in the town of Somers.”
The partners shared that they import several ingredients from Italy, such as pasta, olive oil, and tomatoes for their sauces. They also plan to “buy a lot of fresh produce from the great farm community in Somers” during the growing season.
Happily, they have been very busy during their first few months of business. When asked what they thought were the most popular items on the menu, they responded, “The most popular items at Mario’s is hard to say. We obviously emphasize our pizzas, but at the same time we are so much more than that. Our menu consists of salads, soups, wings, grinders, pastas, and a lot of classic Italian dinner entrees. We take pride in everything we send out to our customers.”
As far as their own favorites on the menu, Mario said, “My favorite dish on the menu would have to be ‘The Olivia’ pizza. In my opinion there is nothing better than homemade Italian eggplant, and when you add tomatoes, mozzarella, spices, and fresh basil it just takes it to the next level. It has become a runaway favorite at Mario’s so far.”
Nikko’s favorite menu item “would have to be the Nikko’s A La Vodka pasta dish. When coming up with the menu for Mario’s, it was definitely the one that came to mind when picking an item I wanted named after myself. It is made fresh to order, and has definitely been a hit so far.” He also favors their bone-in chicken wings, and by the way, their “gold fever” wings feature a tangy BBQ sauce. They also come in a choice of other flavors, such as sweet chili, garlic parmesan, Cajun, plain, and of course, Buffalo.
Many of their dishes feature Nini’s (Mario’s mother) house-made tomato sauce, one of the “secret family recipes” offered on their menu. If there’s room for dessert, cannoli’s are available every day, as well as a daily dessert special, which may be tiramisu, cheesecake, chocolate mousse cake, or other favorites.
A typical day for the partners “includes getting to the restaurant early in the morning to prepare for the day. With our menu consisting of a lot of house-made items, preparation time is key to make sure we get a lot of things done prior to opening the doors. It’s definitely time consuming and a lot of work, but it’s all worth it when you hear customers say how much they really enjoyed the food. Hearing positive feedback from our great customers is the best part of our job, and makes those long days and nights worth it.”
Mario’s Pizzeria and Ristorante located at
48 South Road in Somers, Connecticut
860-698-6988 or 860-698-6986