ANGELINA’S RISTORANTE IN TOTTENVILLE EXPANDS TO ENCOMPASS MORE THAN 9,000 SQUARE FEET OF DINING SPACE, INCLUDING A NEW PERMANENT OUTDOOR STRUCTURE

BY JESSICA JONES GORMAN • PHOTOS BY ROBERT NUZZIE

Angelina Malerba always loved to entertain: After spending hours in her kitchen, rolling dozens of meatballs and layering up a hearty lasagna, she’d invite friends and family over to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

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“She just always loved cooking and having a house full of guests,” said Angelina’s son, Vincent. “People always told her she should open her own restaurant because she enjoyed entertaining so much.” So, when a small pizzeria went up for sale in her Annadale neighborhood, Angelina purchased it.

“My cousin Peter was in the restaurant business, so he guided her and they started this little Italian restaurant together,” Vincent Malerba said. “She loved it.”

When another store in the same Jefferson Boulevard strip mall became vacant, she expanded her vision and Angelina’s Ristorante was born.

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“Angelina’s opened in 1994 and from day one, it was a success,” Malerba said. “She filled the menu with our family recipes and made the space so warm and welcoming.”

After owning and operating the business for 10 years, the Malerba family showed interest in buying the plaza in which it was located, but a dispute with the landlord created a different opportunity.

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“We loved our location in Annadale and wanted to buy the property, but the landlord didn’t want to sell it,” Malerba said. “So we started scouting out new locations. Our realtor showed us the old Tottenville Inn…on a warm afternoon as the sun was setting and a beautiful breeze was blowing off the water. We were hooked…knew we had found our new home.”

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The family completed a major overhaul on the historic property, investing $5 million and two years in the process.

“We thought it would cost $1 million and take six months to complete, but things turned out a little differently,” Malerba said of the tri level waterfront mansion, which was refurbished to represent the family’s Italian roots.

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During those two years, the family transformed the space into an upscale, fine dining Zagat rated destination with a traditional yet modern Mediterranean menu. Popular dishes include the Gamberoni “Angelina” (sautéed jumbo shrimp with cognac, garlic, and lemon tarragon sauce, served over risotto with peas and mushrooms); the La Vedova Allegria (squid ink pasta with shrimp, clams, mussels, and scallops in Italian plum tomato sauce); and the Ossobuco di Maiale (oven roasted pork shank in its own sauce, served with traditional risotto Milanese). There’s also Filet Mignon Carpaccio with shaved parmigiano, arugula, lemon, and truffle oil; Colossal Crabmeat with shrimp, heirloom tomato, onions, and avocado; and Burrata Mozzarella, served with prosciutto di parma, tomatoes, and roasted peppers.

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“All are recipes that my mother has been serving for years,” Malerba said, adding, of the restaurant’s Tottenville relocation, that, “It’s been a great journey here, and we’re still expanding. After a decade in this beautiful spot, we’ve grown to encompass over 9,000 square feet of dining space and a beautiful new party room that can accommodate 250 guests. Since opening our new outdoor tent in April, we’ve hosted everything there from premiere parties to showers, weddings, bridal shows, and Sweet Sixteens.”

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The permanent outdoor structure, which took seven years of permitting and six months to build, was previously vacant land and is now outfitted with mosaic tiled floors, two granite bar areas, fabric draping, and 16 chandeliers. In the winter, there is radiant heat; during the summer, the space is cooled by a central air conditioning unit. The family decided to add the space thanks to customer demand.

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“We’ve had a big demand for a space for large capacity events,” Malerba said. “Last year, before the tent opened, we had over 500 parties at the restaurant and even put up a smaller, seasonal tent that accommodated requests for outdoor functions. So, we decided to make the most of every inch of this beautiful property. The additional event space, with its bright, airy feel and clean, modern look, allows for so many more and varied options.”

The restaurant’s bocce courts, which have become a popular summertime attraction over the past few years, were relocated closer to the water’s edge, and the family added several new party menus.

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“We have eight or nine different menus to choose from now, and there’s three full time event coordinators on staff to walk you through every step of the party planning process,” Malerba said.

Guests can opt to have their ceremony on the premises, and there are plenty of party upgrades available, including customized menus, reserved balcony space, photo booth rental, a s’mores station, candy table, fresh donuts and zeppoles, and individual cups of gelato.

The one element that every Angelina’s party planner and dinner guest can count on is a show from Mother Nature.

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“The sunsets are just spectacular,” Malerba concluded. “When we found this property, we knew that was the most breathtaking aspect. And we’re happy to offer those beautiful views on a daily basis.”

Angelina’s Ristorante
399 Ellis Street / 718.227.2900 angelinasristorante.com