For Mother’s Day we reflect back with Sara on the strength it took to not only raise 5 boys on her own, but the courage she had to help achieve not only her dreams, but those of her family as well. This will be a two part blog post series that covers Sara’s ambition she had for a better life for her boys and her journey with Michael Angelo’s.
When I was growing up I spent much of my time in the kitchen with my Grandmother Foti learning how to cook and mastering her recipes, so when the kids were growing up I always cooked for them as well as anyone else that came over to our house. Eventually, I started cooking outside of the home when we moved to Connecticut and I worked in an Italian Deli making meals for them to sell. This is where I can remember being the first time I had this idea in my head that one day I would like to have my own restaurant, a pizzeria. I didn’t know when or if this would happen, but I knew this was something that I wanted to think about.
When we were moving back from Connecticut to California a friend of mine had a pizza oven that I wanted to buy. We didn’t have much money at all, so I worked it off, and we moved the pizza oven back to California. At the time I knew we didn’t have any plans to do much with it, but the idea was still in the back of my mind about having the pizzeria one day
When the boys were getting older the idea that I had in my head about opening a pizzeria popped in my head again so I decided to give it a shot. I couldn’t believe that we actually were able to open our pizzeria, Dino’s Pizzeria, named after my youngest son, on St. Patrick’s Day 1982. I put all I had into this restaurant and all the kids had their job to do in the restaurant as it was a family effort to run the pizzeria. A few years into the pizzeria being open my third oldest, Michael Angelo, came back to California to dive into the pizzeria and make it even bigger. He had a vision for the place and goals of where he wanted the business to go.
After Michael took over the pizzeria change happened so quickly! I still was working full time at the local grocery store since I still had my younger boys to provide for, while Michael ran the restaurant. In the evening we would make my meals in the evening so Michael could freeze them and then sell them in the restaurant. We needed a name for our frozen meals and when I asked him what he was going to call them he said with confidence, “Michael Angelo’s” named after him. I will never forget when I asked him why he was doing this and what his drive was with our business and he told me, “My goal is to have my mother’s food on everyone’s table.”
From there we sold my frozen meals to local businesses to re-sell. We then sold the pizzeria when we decided to make our meals full time and when Michael opened up our first factory. Now I didn’t know anything about formulating recipes or measuring, because I cooked the way my grandmother taught me, to go by taste and the recipe in your head so I would cook and Michael would measure what I was using so we could make larger batches to make more of my meals at a time. I never changed my standard of only the best ingredients in my meals and to this day we use the same ingredients as we do when I cook at home.