THIS WARM, HOME-STYLE ITALIAN EATERY CELEBRATES THE MAGIC OF THE FAMILY TABLE, BRINGING ISLANDERS TOGETHER TO BREAK BREAD OVER LAUGHTER, STORIES, AND CLASSIC COMFORT FARE
BY ELIZABETH HAZARD PHOTOS BY ALEX BARRETO
In Italian families, breaking bread is far more than sharing a meal, explained restaurateur Nicholas Cammarato. “It’s all about a fresh start; you work through any issues over a meal,” he added earnestly. “You hash things out, you celebrate, you talk, you laugh, you cry; everything is done over a good, homemade meal with family and friends.”
This idea of communal dining over shared stories is the driving force behind his Prince’s Bay restaurant, aptly named Breaking Bread. It’s a place where customers become family, all gathering to savor life’s magical moments in a space Cammarato feels is just the right size to foster a family dynamic in a restau-rant setting. He noted that 85% of his customers are repeats, proof the Cammarato family must be doing something right. For three decades, Cammarato worked in the construction industry, but his wife Nicole and her family have been in the restaurant business for decades.
During the pandemic, the couple stumbled upon an existing restaurant that was up for sale, and decided it was time to make Nicole’s dream of launch-ing her own restaurant come true. “Nicole loves to cook and entertain, and she’s always wanted to have a space to call her own,” Cammarato said. His background in building proved fruitful, and he used his expertise to revamp the existing space. “I went in and reinvented the restaurant; we remodeled it to reflect traditional Italian values with a modern edge,” he said.
But it was his wife’s revamping of classic Italian dishes that served as the young restaurant’s true recipe for success, he said. Referring to Nicole as the heart and soul of the business, Cammarato beams with pride when he speaks of Breaking Bread’s lead chef and chief recipe creator. “My wife is an absolutely great chef. This was her dream. She always wanted her own place, and I wanted to help her achieve it. She’s so passionate about her food and customers. She loves the look on people’s faces when they enjoy her food.” Calling upon her father’s cookbook of classic Italian staples, Nicole reinvents the dishes she grew up eating, from crispy chicken Milanese and juicy veal piccata to filet of sole, baked salmon oreganato, chicken parmigiana, and steak pizzaiola. A fan-favorite is the baked chicken cutlet dressed with seasoned breadcrumbs and plum tomatoes, served with arugula salad and sautéed spinach. Pasta dishes span shrimp fra diavolo over linguine, cavatelli with broccoli rabe and sausage, and tortellini carbonara.
Meals typically begin with a shared appetizer, a classic means for “breaking bread” before the main course. One standout is the eggplant, fried and accom-panied by fresh burrata, arugula, and roasted red peppers, all drizzled with honey. There are also crispy truffle parmesan fries, crunchy calamari, and an array of fresh salads (including a decadent meatball salad with ricotta).
Breaking Bread also boasts a stacked sandwich menu, with both wraps and heroes aplenty. Handhelds run the gamut, from fried chicken and hot peppers to eggplant parmigiana hero or sliced mari-nated steak. There’s even a hero named after the chef, piled high with a veal cutlet, arugula, shaved parmesan, red onion, mushrooms, tomatoes, and red wine vinegar. Takeout has become a significant portion of Breaking Bread’s business; families and working professionals alike clamor for the diverse hero selection on weekday meal breaks or family dinner nights.
While the menu remains primarily Nicole’s domain, the pizza is a source of pride for her husband. “I wanted to do pizza differently,” he said. “I looked at all of the pizza places I knew and loved, and we melded those together to create the signature pizza I make today.” What sets his pizza apart? The secret lies in the dough, he explained, adding his bubbling Sicilian and Margherita pies have amassed a cult following. “I use a different process that makes the taste and texture really shine. It’s a forgotten method, a way pizza was made years before it became Americanized. No one else has this crust.” In addition to technique and creativity, freshness and quality are also key to making a dish sing, added the owner.
“I only buy the “I use a different process that makes the taste and texture really shine. It’s a forgotten method, a way pizza was made years before it became Americanized.” best of the best, the freshest chicken, fish, veal, and meat,” he said, noting that hikes in food prices have certainly hit the family-owned business, but that it’s worth it to ensure Breaking Bread’s customers can count on high-quality meals every time they sit at a table. “My customers and the surrounding neighborhood are so important to the success of the restaurant,” he said. “They are truly fantastic and have become part of our family.” With such a large and diverse menu, many regulars have still never eaten the same dish twice. “Customers can come two or three times a week and never repeat a meal,” added Cammarato. An ardor for family, food, and tradition are at the heart of the Cammarato family restaurant. Their son has also joined the business, tossing pizzas alongside his father and learning the secret behind the perfect dough.