One night I told Carrie (Drew and Carrie Sassi were the owners), that they were doing a great job, and that I was jealous. She said, “thank you”, and asked me why I was jealous. I told her that I always wanted to have my own breakfast/lunch spot. She said “you should do pizza”. I told her that I didn’t know too much about making pizza. She replied, “Find a spot, and we will show you how”. It was such a scary, but exciting prospect to consider. It was scary because I had a good job at Aetna, making good money. I felt like I had job security, although after 13 years it was making me miserable, even so, quitting a well-paying job to open a pizzeria seemed like a risky proposition. It was exciting because I always enjoyed working in the kitchen environment – I worked at Ruby’s Deli in Middletown the day I turned 16, my first real job. For those of you, who were familiar with it, know how special that place was. Nowhere could you get a corned beef or pastrami sandwich that good. Sonny and Russ, the father and son duo that owned Ruby’s taught my so many skills that I use in my shop every day. Most importantly making great food, using the best and freshest ingredients while being focused on the customer and making them feel welcome. I spent 18+ years working there through high school, and on and off through college, and even when I was at Aetna. I dreamed of someday owning my own restaurant, but the chances of that happening seemed slim. So, after thinking it over for several weeks, with much support from my wife, I told Drew and Carrie that I wanted to give it a try. The advice I got from Drew and Carrie seemed to point at small town, busy road. I knew where I wanted to look first, hard to believe it could be so easy. We took a ride out on route 66 east to Cobalt to look at the spot which I currently am in, and it was occupied by the old Happy Days Drive-In. However, next door, there was a small spot for rent in the plaza that’s home to the Cobalt post office and what was then Pat’s Market. I called Drew to tell him about it and he came out to have a look, he said “this is a home run”. It was that easy, Pizzeria DaVinci Cobalt was born.
I began my training in October 2005 at Pizzeria DaVinci Rockfall, and left Aetna at the end of 2005. For the first 3 months of 2006, I worked by day at 367 West High St remodeling the empty 675 sq. ft. space. With much help from my father, we were able to turn that dingy little spot into a nice open kitchen to house my pizzeria. My evenings were spent learning the craft, training at Rockfall, and occasionally Killingworth. By the end March of 2006, I was ready to open. My newly trained staff and I set out to make people great pizza, grinders, and salads at a fair price. By that time there was a considerable buzz around town. I spent many nights wondering if the phone would ring once we opened. Turns out that would not be a problem. There is nothing more rewarding than hearing customer compliments on the food that you prepare, it validates the effort you put in, and provides great satisfaction. After 8 successful years at my original location, I wanted to if I could find a spot with a little more space, without losing my fantastic customer base. After some research, and legal battles I was lucky to be able to purchase the land and building next door, 363 West High St. (the spot I originally sought out). The building was way too small, but I was assured it could be renovated without having to start over. In August of 2013, work began on the building and it was completed in November. Having a bigger floor plan, I was able to add more to the menu, such as great wings, wraps and panini sandwiches. Since my move, my business nearly doubled, I feel largely in part because the building is standalone and more visible. Over 11 years have passed since I have started Pizzeria DaVinci Cobalt. I have enjoyed not only serving the communities of East Hampton and Portland, but feeling like a part of them as well. I have been lucky enough to be able to support many community organizations and charitable causes with profits from DaVinci Cobalt. My staff and I hope to continue to serve the community in many ways for years to come!