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 a mission that makes us smile every day.
Sorriso means “smile” in Italian. And nothing makes us happier than to gather around the table and share a delicious meal, joyfully prepared. “Sorriso” is inspired by our son, LJ, who has Down syndrome and 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, folks, staff and it’s been a wonderful ride ever since. Our creative chefs and attentive staff of servers receive rave reviews often.
Karen’s years as a creative art director and designer served well in the redesign of the interior, logo and everything visual about the place. Her favorite feature is custom designed wallpaper that tells the story of Sorriso. She feels that most guests eat with their "eyes" as well. 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 and takeout, and we will do our best to be sure you ‘eat happy’.
"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.