Wow, didn’t realize this before but this blog post marks the first anniversary of our food project! Plenty of restaurants to go and we’re excited to share them with you.
This month we’ll be discussing the very aptly named restaurant, La Famiglia. I say this because a) the name is in Italian and the restaurant’s food is southern Italian and b) it is very much a family affair. That was made abundantly clear on our first visit as we got to chat with the entire Hagys family who own the restaurant: brothers Jordan and Joe, and their parents Ralph and Terri – it was nothing but smiles and warmth from a group that absolutely loves what they do. The family involvement extends past the immediate four, and it was fun listening to what brother does this and what uncle is in charge of that.
Now in its fifth year of operation, the restaurant has really grown on Huntington – both figuratively and literally as its continued success led to expansions and even an additional restaurant, Mulberry Street Meatball Company and Deli which offers lunch service. The original Sixth Avenue house offered a small and intimate dining room in addition to one of the only outdoor seating areas in town, and it’s lovely. Mulberry Street is just a few blocks away in the heart of downtown.
Soon, popularity and event space demands led to adding the house’s second floor to the mix, and most recently the Hagys purchased the home next door for more banquet/special occasion space. Here’s the new gorgeous space:
There are many things to like about dinner at La Famiglia -it’s laid back, friendly, good food, and the atmosphere is just so welcoming. What is most obvious is the attention paid to authenticity and quality. These are family recipes that have been passed down and are executed with care. Desserts are crafted in house, pastas are made from scratch, and ingredients are always fresh or even from their own garden. All of these traits were sorely needed five years ago in downtown Huntington considering the most authentic Italian at the time was Fazoli’s…
Kati’s order: Special – rigatoni with basil cream sauce
Basil is at the top of my list when it comes to herbs so this special for the evening caught my attention. Basil’s refreshing yet robust flavor is a summer staple. Sometimes, though, I want a richer taste which made this dish the perfect union! The creamy fusion of a white sauce and basil was seriously just what I wanted! The dish was a little deceiving because at first it didn’t look like a large portion (and I was hungry!), but I found myself struggling to finish. Would gladly order this again and again.
Will’s order: Italian Sausage and Peppers – fresh rigatoni noodles with sautéed peppers, slow roasted tomato sauce, and a century old family recipe for crumbled Italian style sausage.
Yum, people! I upgraded mine by adding their Calabrian peppers for some extra heat. Overall this was one hearty meal. The handmade pasta was great and the sauce was thick and flavorful, but the star of the show was the meat- they weren’t shy about making sure the dish had enough of their family recipe sausage!
Dessert: Cannoli – Italian pastry, filled with a sweetened ricotta cheese mixture, and topped with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Would you eat that? Of course you would. There’s no diet plan strong enough to stop you. We had the option of getting it chocolate dipped and we took them up on it since we’re not chumps. Cannoli was great – fluffy and rich with good crisp and a little tang.
Appetizer: Grandma Jenny’s Meatball – authentic Italian meatballs, simmered in slow cooked tomato sauce, and dusted with imported pecorino cheese.
We had to see what all the fuss was about regarding these here meatballs. Much bigger than the picture suggests, i still regret only getting one. There was a “meatball platter” appetizer that had a bunch of these baked with cheese and served on focaccia bread that i’m definitely getting next time… although, their four cheese fonduta also sounded amazing.
Kati’s order: Raphael – Great Grandfather’s recipe for Italian sausage, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and garlic. One of my goals this year was to stick with locally sourced meat if at all possible. La Famiglia does have some locally sourced items and their sausage is one of those. It didn’t just fit the local category either, it also fit the best sausage I’ve ever had column, too. Seriously. Each bite of my pizza was packed with spicy, flavorful punch. In fact, when I ordered it, I really was still dreaming of my rigatoni dish I mentioned above. However, now, I can’t wait to get back specifically to order this same pie. When the ingredients to a pizza are of incredible quality, there is no need for a lot of them, and this dish is proof of that. We swapped some pieces among the table of friends, which is fitting for the setting and vibes found in the homey setting, and mine took home the prize!
Will’s order: Lasagna Calabrese – signature homemade lasagna, with fresh ricotta & mozzarella cheeses, stewed Italian pork, fresh herbs, and slow cooked tomato sauce.
Famous chef Gordon Ramsey, when trying out new restaurants, likes to order crab cakes. His rationale is because they are quite common due to their popularity and are generally easy to make, however, they are particularly tough to make well. That’s one of the ways he’s able to discern a restaurant’s ability. That was my mentality when ordering lasagna – every Italian restaurant has lasagna but how many have great lasagna? In fact, growing up i didn’t think i liked the dish. That was until i tried Ceredo’s famous Rocco’s (which we’ll need to visit soon); that’s what opened my eyes to how good this Italian staple could be. La Famiglia’s version absolutely delivered. Savory and meaty, and anything they put their tomato sauce on is going to be good. What transcended it into the level of unforgettable was the copious amount of cheese. In my book there is no such thing as “too much cheese” and i’m glad the Hagys are on the same page.
A word from owner Jordan Hagy:
What was your vision/goal when conceptualizing your restaurant?
Our primary goal when we opened La Famiglia in 2011 was to bring our family’s passion for cooking and style of cuisine to the local market. Having never worked in be restaurant industry, our only experience in the kitchen stemmed from my Grandmother, Jenny Hagy, who taught us everything we know today about Italian cuisine. She, with her family, immigrated to the United States in the early 1900’s from southern Italy. When they immigrated, my family brought to America their own style of cooking and passion for food which we try to preserve to this day. Every Sunday we would go to grandmas house for authentic pastas, baked breads, hand rolled meatballs, and countless other Italian specialties. It was those memories and recipes we wanted to bring and share with the public when we opened La Famiglia. We wanted each and every person who walked through our door to feel like they were eating at Grandma’s house with us. We were very blessed to have the support from the local community and over the years have been fortunate enough to grow our business to match the growing demand for classic Italian cuisine in our area.
What sets La Famiglia apart?
What really separates La Famiglia apart from any other restaurant is our passion for our ingredients and our customers. Being a family owned business- we have a personal connection with each and every guest who walks through our door. We try to build a relationship with everyone we meet and in turn, make everyone we meet apart of our extended family. Eating is a very social part of our society and food is something that should be shared with people you care about. We want everyone who eats our food to feel like they know our family through our recipes and passion for authentic food. We are also different from any other restaurant in that we put extreme emphasis on our ingredients. To bring a truly authentic experience to a food market that is overrun with frozen, processed, and low quality products – we go to extremes to use only the best ingredients we can. We source our tomatoes for our pizzas from the San Marzano region of Italy, our flour for our pastas and pizzas is milled in Naples Italy, and a variety of our meats and cheeses are shipped directly from Rome. If a specific ingredient isn’t imported from Italy, it is either homemade at La Famiglia or sourced from local farmers. At La Famiglia we hand stretch our own mozzarella cheese, grind our meats for sausage and meatballs and utilize local farmers for fresh peppers, lettuce, mushrooms and a variety of seasonal ingredients. Authentic food absolutely has to begin with authentic ingredients and a passion for the craft of cooking.
WHEN TO GO: Only open for dinner (reservations are accepted), but make sure to try Mulberry Street for lunch.
BEST PART: Jordan says it best when he talks about how they treat their customers and the attention paid to ingredients. Both are very visible.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Authenticity and you really do feel like part of the family.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Part of the experience is the relaxed atmosphere so do be prepared for longer dining time especially during a busy night. Also, the family told us their favorite meal was Grandma’s spaghetti and fried chicken – let’s start a petition to get that on the menu!
HOW TO FIND IT: 1327 6th Avenue or http://www.lafamigliawv.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/LaFamigliaDeli
OVERALL RATING: drum roll please…
4 Tandems – Amazing!/Can i eat the other customers’ leftovers?