THIS IS US
LJ, Jimmy, Nico and Karen Bellas
WELCOME TO SORRISO KITCHEN
We serve creative, fresh, farm-to-table breakfast and lunch while serving the special needs community.
That's our mission.
Nothing makes us happier than to gather around the table and share a delicious meal together. Sorriso means "smile" in Italian and our son, LJ, who has Down Syndrome, is our inspiration. He brings a smile to everyone he meets. We wanted to create a safe place where LJ could work and be a vibrant part of the community he lives in. That was the dream of Sorriso Kitchen.
It all started around the kitchen table
(as do so many important decisions in the Bellas family)
Jimmy grew up in the family restaurant business on Long Island, NY. After marrying Karen, he changed careers by joining corporate America where he remained for 20 years. After telling the boys countless stories about the family business and talking about getting back into it one day, Nico said at dinner, “Please—let’s just do it already.” We looked at each other and realized Nico was right. This was the time.
After that, everything fell into place. The perfect space showed up, funding, chef, staff and it’s been an incredible ride ever since. Our food, creative chefs and attentive servers receive rave reviews often.
And folks love our mission.
Karen’s years as a Creative Art Director in advertising has served well in the redesign of the interior, logo and everything visual about the place. She also has a passion for cooking and feeding people. Her favorite feature is custom designed wallpaper that welcomes guests to Sorriso. She feels that we eat with our eyes first so the decor should be as inviting as the food. It's all part of what makes guests smile while enjoying a delicious meal.
We’ve been overwhelmed and overjoyed to receive an outpouring of support from our incredible community. It’s been a journey beyond what we ever imagined. And we can't wait to see what the future holds. Please join us for breakfast, lunch, weekly dinners, Art Night Outs and takeout, and we will do our best to be sure you ‘eat happy’.
Executive Chef Ryan Chatfield
Ryan is thrilled to be 'home' again. A native of Cornwall, New York, Ryan became passionate about food at a you˚ng age. He attended Career & Technical Ed in New York where he competed for the Prostart Cooking Competition and won 1st Place in New York State and 9th in the nation. He then attended and graduated the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. Since he has opened, worked i led a variety of high volume kitchens, creating and executing innovative menus.
He is passionate about combining his love for cooking and helping take the family owned restaurant to its next level and is pleased to be a part of Sorriso Kitchen's mission to empower the special needs community. Welcome back Ryan.
"The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away." -Pablo Picasso
"We're all given gifts.
Impact the lives of others with yours.
You never know what gifts you can unlock in them.
And then, they can give them away."
-from Karen Bellas' TEDx Talk
SORRISO KITCHEN AND REAL-LIFE JOB TRAINING
On Mondays, Sorriso Kitchen is closed so that the restaurant can serve as a teaching classroom for young adults with special needs attending L.J.'S school, ECLC of NJ and The Center School in Somerset. These classes provide real-life job training in service and hospitality. The goal is to offer these young adults a positive experience in a workplace where they are respected, accepted and encouraged as they acquire the job skills they need to become employed in the community.
We have also commissioned ECLC to have students print specialty items like coffee mugs, tote bags, notecards and t-shirts for sale in the restaurant. Take a look at our Smile Shop. Our hope is that this model inspires other businesses to offer similar training opportunities in their communities.
It’s just one of the many ways we’re making the world a happier place.