It wasn’t that long ago that Joe DeNicola and his brother, Leo, the co-owners of La Tavola Trattoria in Sayville and other restaurants found themselves in Texas accepting an award from the American Culinary Federation.
During that trip in 2011, they partook in a little Tex-Mex.
At some point it dawned on Joe DeNicola, a longtime chef, that he could cook this type of cuisine himself.
“I said to Leo, I’m going to find a way to open a Tex-Mex restaurant,” Joe DeNicola recalled.
Some four years later, the brothers found themselves in Patchogue Village Saturday evening, swarmed by friends, family, business leaders, dignitaries and other well-wishers as they celebrated their third Del Fuego location, Del Fuego East.
The restaurant opened this past May at 25 West Main Street, in the New Village at Patchogue complex.
“Everything has been great,” said a jubilant Leo DeNicola minutes after a ribbon-cutting ceremony, during which his son, Joseph, had the honor of closing the scissors on that red ribbon. “This turnout has been unbelievable, with all our friends, family and our investors.”
He said the brothers and the staff have been so thankful to be welcomed by such a supportive group of neighboring restaurant owners.
“All boats rise with the tide,” he said. “So the more better restaurants in a particular location, the more people will come. And if you build it, and build it right, they’ll keep coming.”
The other Del Fuego locations are in St. James and Bablyon. Leo DeNicola said the brothers might even consider opening a fourth Del Fuego in the future.
So what’s the secret to their success?
Well, other than the brothers’ lives each spent in restaurants and the hospitality industry, Joe DeNicola said there isn’t much of a secret to keep.
“In general, with all of our restaurants, it’s the commitment to quality and buying the best [ingredients],” he said. “Every recipe is made from scratch…We don’t take anything out of a can or bottle and serve it.
“You’ll never find a bottle of Rose’s Lime Juice here.”
Photo: Young Joseph DeNicola did the honors of cutting the ribbon at Del Fuego East in Patchogue Village Thursday evening. (Credit: Michael White)