At 10 a.m. in , the sweet smell of olive oil and seasoned bread crumbs was already wafting through the air. Bruno Ceniccola, the Ceniccola himself, was already in the front dining area, ready to introduce himself to Patch.
As it seems to be true with most chefs, Ceniccola has been cooking his whole life.
"I started washing dishes, of course, then got into prep work and just developed a passion for cooking," said Ceniccola, who entered the restaurant business in West Haven at age 15 at a family friend's restaurant -Gabriele Ristorante Italiano and Bar (now in Orange, Connecticut).
Ceniccola has a tattoo on each bicep, peeking out from underneath his t-shirt. He says it's "just something I drew up."
The Italian eatery is family-owned and operated with Ceniccola's sister, Maria, and brother, Joe. Ceniccola says his parents came to the United States from Italy nearly 50 years ago, but tradition still holds strong.
"We have a family dinner at my mother's every Wednesday. Everyone shows up and this has been going on for nearly thirty years now," said Ceniccola, who has a daughter of his own as well, five-year-old Angelina.
While Ceniccola says his favorite dishes to eat include Chicken Marsala and Penne a la Vodka, the dishes that everyone raves most about at the Deli is the chicken and the eggplant Parmesan.
"And the pizza, of course," said Ceniccola, who describes it as a thin-crust, well-done pie. "That's a big hit. Everyone loves that one."
At 45, Ceniccola has had 30 years of cooking experience. He started before graduating Notre Dame High School. Any chef in the game that long is bound to have his share of dinner disasters of catastrophic mishaps. Ceniccola recalls a particularly nightmarish incident when his pizza oven broke during the Friday night dinner rush.
"The best part of the job," said Ceniccola, "is putting a smile on people's faces. We get compliments in here everyday."
The business recently celebrated its first year in business with a grand opening on July 11.
Want a taste of Italy? Stop by Ceniccola's to check out their fully stocked deli and meet Bruno yourself. Bon appetit!