Fabio’s N.Y. Pizza & Cucina Italiana now in Ruckersville

By Susan Gibbs

Fabio of Fabio’s N.Y. Pizza & Cucina Italiana in Ruckersville writes on the front of his menu that he uses only the freshest and finest ingredients following original familyrecipes – for his pizza, Stromboli, calzone, pasta and everything else on his menu — and he’s not kidding.

Elena, Fabio and Veronica Esposito of Fabio's N.Y. Pizza & Cucina Italiana in Ruckersville

“I came to this country from Naples when I was 14 years old, about 26 years ago,” he says. “I worked for my cousin at restaurants he owns in Maryland and Wisconsin, and then opened my own restaurant when I was 19 years old.”

 

Ever since he opened his first restaurant in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, Fabio has blended, kneaded and baked the dough that goes into his Neapolitan and Sicilian pizzas, his Stromboli, calzones and subs, each and every day. He has made his sauce fresh daily from tomatoes that are peeled, pureed and blended with fresh olive oil, garlic, basil and other spices.

Most everybody in this area is familiar with Fabio’s name: after moving to Virginia 16 years ago he opened his first Fabio’s N.Y Pizza in Gordonsville, then sold it and opened one in Charlottesville on High Street, and then another in Charlottesville off 29N, on Gardens Boulevard, near Pier One imports.

It was just about a year and a half ago he opened Fabio’s N.Y. Pizza and Cucina Italiana in Ruckersville, in the little shopping center fronting the Terrace Greene apartment community on 29N – and presented Greene County not only with his trademark pizzas and sandwiches, but with a wealth of family recipes for pasta and other authentic Italian dishes.

“A lot of people think we only do pizza and sandwiches, and then when they come in and sit down and order from the menu they say ‘We’ll be back, we’ll be back, we thought it was just a pizza shop,” Fabio smiles. “We have wonderful pasta dishes: carbonara, puttanesca, seafood … homemade eggplant parmegiana, all made fresh.”

Fabio's bruschetta, little homemade toasts topped with fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil

But that’s hardly all.

Along with standard fare like chicken wings, mozzarella sticks and breaded mushrooms, appetizers include bruschetta, deep-fried calamari, mussels marinara and mozzarella caprese – tomato slices topped with fresh mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and basil.

Entrees include: ravioli stuffed with spinach and artichoke hearts covered in alfredo sauce; Penne with sautéed mushrooms, sweet peas, onion and tender pieces of ham; Homemade stuffed veggie shells – pasta shells stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, zucchini, squash, spinach, ricotta and parmesan cheese topped with homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese; Fabio’s signature lasagna, made with beef, ricotta, Romano and mozzarella; his Gnocchi Napoletani; and much, much, much more.

So what brought Fabio and his fabulous family recipes to Virginia, when many would say its further north that such delicacies are usually found?

“Family,” he says. “I kept the shop in New Jersey for about 14 years, and then I took a trip back to Naples, and got married.”

The bachelor Fabio had gone home to visit family, and kept running into Elena, whose father is a friend of his father.

“I have known her since she was about five years old,” Fabio says. “Every time I saw her, I told myself she was the one.” He instigated a courtship, which consisted of a few visits to her while she worked at her father’s bakery, or formal visits at her home, where they sat on a couch with her mother between them.

Pizza dough and tomato sauce are both made fresh daily at Fabio's in Ruckersville

“Men weren’t allowed in the bakery, where my wife worked with her three sisters, but because our fathers were friends, I could go in and out a bit,” Fabio says.  “I could barely talk to her at her home, so we got married, and that was it.”
Back in the United States, the couple decided to settle in Virginia.

“Sixteen years ago I opened my first shop in Gordonsville,” Fabio recalls. “I was there about seven years and then sold it when we were expecting our first child, my daughter Veronica. I took about two years off and then opened Fabio’s N.Y. restaurant on High Street in Charlottesville. I was there for about three years, and then opened another, little Fabio’s, on US29, near Pier One Imports.

“But we live in Greene County, so I opened the Fabio’s in Ruckersville,” he explains.

Soon, the Fabio’s in Greene County will be the only Fabio’s that Fabio actually owns. He has sold the restaurant on 29 in Charlottesville, and will soon be turning the restaurant on High Street over to his nephew and his nephew’s partner.

So the Ruckersville restaurant will be it for Fabio, Elena, Veronica, now nine, and three-year-old Luca.

The tables aren’t draped in white cloths and the wait staff does not have white towels draped over their arms, but the food is authentic homemade, the servings are generous, the prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere is filled with love.

 

“We want people to come, to get to know us,” says Fabio. “Have a glass of wine, enjoy our food, become part of our family.”

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