NUTLEY, NJ - If you stopped by the TAPinto Nutley table at the recent Nutley Family Service Bureau fundraiser at Mountsier-Hardie Gardens, you might have learned about TAPtales. For those of you who missed out on the rousing repartee, TAP Tales are stories about Nutley personalities, families, businesses, historical events, celebrations… In other words, ‘ALL THINGS NUTLEY’ narratives that will be making their way to publication on TAPinto Nutley’s website and social medial pages.
Of all the TAP Tales submitted as part of TAPinto’s drawing, the winner was: “Tell us the story of Grandma Pie at Cucina 355 Risorante & Pizzeria”. The story idea was submitted by Kevin, a Nutley homeowner and high school teacher in Bergen County.
Guy Gencarelli, owner of the home of Grandma Pie sat down with TAPinto Nutley to tell the tale.
And so the story goes….
GUY: Grandma Pie was at first something we prepared only for family and staff because it takes more time to make. Like something special your grandma might take the time to make for you. When we did have a few ‘squares’ left over, customers would see them and say “What’s that?” So we started selling it by the square and then Grandma “whole” Pie made its way to the menu. It happened because customers who sampled it loved it.
TAPinto: What makes Grandma Pie the number one pie at Cucina 355 Risorante & Pizzeria?
GUY: To start it’s a square pie. It’s special because it is made with fresh mozzarella and fresh plum sauce instead of pizza sauce. It’s cooked in a pan and topped with fresh basil.
At Cucina 355 it’s not just about making good food like Grandma Pie, it’s about making people feel good. It’s nice for people to come here and just chill out; to not have to worry about cooking. BYOB and come and relax.
TAPinto: Is there a Number Two Pie?
GUY: Pinebrooklyn Pizza is named because my Dad was the original owner of the Pine Brook location. It’s similar to Grandma Pie except it is round and the fresh plum sauce does not contain garlic.
TAPinto: Other than pie, what is your most popular entrée?
GUY: Chicken Dominick. Chicken topped with fresh mozzarella and prosciutto in sherry wine mushroom cream sauce. Dominick is my nephew. Dominick’s dad Mike is my business partner and my brother in law.
Our recipes have evolved over time. Pizza has been on our menu since I first learned from my dad how to make pie when I was 10 years old. It’s in our lineage. My father is from Calabria and my mom from Bari. My partner Mike’s family is from Avellino.
TAPinto: Why did you choose Nutley for your third location?
GUY: We choose Nutley because it is deeply rooted in family and the Italian culture. When this location became available we chose it because it is in a great place close to the Nutley schools. We love it.
TAPinto: You have been here for two years. What do you think about the High School block scheduling that started this year?
GUY: We like the block scheduling. It is more intense during that one hour; however, we staff up and love it when the kids and teachers come in. That hour is dedicated to them and when the hour is up we focus on our other clients.
TAPinto: In closing is there anything you would like to say to the TAPinto Nutley readers?
GUY: We want to thank everyone in Nutley and the surrounding towns for supporting us. Being the new kid on the block we have been welcomed. We have been happy to serve the community over the past two years and look forward serving the community for many years to come.
Note: TAPinto also spoke with a few of the staff. Cassie is a server and a 2016 Nutley High graduate who was preparing for the High School lunch hour. Guy’s cousin Vinnie is the restaurant manager and we asked him to share his thoughts about the Cucina 355 experience.
CASSIE: In a few minutes kids will start pouring in. Every day during school lunch we are filled. Seating capacity is 75 and every day we are packed with about that many students. It’s great.
VINNIE: Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy pizza at Cucina 355.
Note: According to their website Cucina 355 Risorante & Pizzeria also offers professional catering services.. Catering options suit a wide variety of budgets, appetites, and occasions. Their caterers will work with you to create the perfect menu for your special events. Visit: http://www.cucina355.com/
Gencarelli's Pizza in Pine Brook was established over 25 years ago. Starting with the first generation of owners it has become a home away from home for homemade Italian specialties. There is also a Gencarelli's Pizza in Wayne NJ.
And the winner is….
Kevin, a Nutley homeowner for the past nine years, was the winner of TAPinto’s drawing at the NFSB benefit at Mountsier-Hardie Gardens on Rutgers Ave. TAPinto talked to Kevin, a Nutley homeowner and high school teacher in Bergen County about life in Nutley. Residents may know Kevin's dogs, Oscar and Louise from walks in the township's parks.
TAPinto: Where did you grow up and why did you choose to live in Nutley?
KEVIN: I grew up in West New York, which is more urban than Nutley. When my partner and I started we were originally looking mainly at condos in places like North Bergen and Weehawken. We stumbled on our house in Nutley online. It was one of the first houses we looked at instead of a condo. We put in an offer, and never thinking it would be accepted, we got it. That was in 2008.
TAPinto: How are your commutes to your work places?
KEVIN: To get to my school, it should take 20 minutes; however, mostly my commutes are 30 – 45 minutes. I truly wish I didn’t have to deal with Route 3 traffic to get to work and back home. My partner works as a creative director in Rochelle Park so the commute there is only 10-15 minutes.
TAPinto: What is your favorite thing about living in Nutley and what do you do during your summers when you are not teaching?
KEVIN: As a teacher I like that I can live more or less anonymously in Nutley. During summers, I have always continued to work with some type of summer education program. Soon I will have a summer where I hang out in Nutley with our dogs, Oscar and Louise, in our yard and in the Nutley parks.
TAPinto: While your favorite meal at Cucina 355 is Grandma Pie, is there another item you would recommend?
KEVIN: They also have an awesome Penne Arrabiata which is a chicken cutlet, fresh mozzarella, sliced hot peppers with vodka sauce.
TAPinto: If you could change one thing about Nutley what would it be?
KEVIN: I would like to see a little more night entertainment in Nutley. More places like Cowan’s on Centre St. My partner and I are actually pretty low keyed. Our big nights out are going to Montclair on Saturday night. And Friday night at Cucina 355 for Grandma Pie.
NOTE: TAPinto will be at the ABC Wine and Food Tasting Fundraiser on Saturday Oct 14th at the Nutley Museum from 7:30-10pm. Tickets for the event are available at the door. There will be raffle for another TAPTale as well as a TAPinto Nutley Photo of the Day. The drawing for all raffle items will be at 9 p.m.. We hope to see you there.