LIVINGSTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey restaurant took to social media to offer free food to families in need, no questions asked.

The Ottaiano brothers, Giuseppe and Bernardino, are the heart and soul of Calabria Restaurant and Pizzeria.

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For 40 years and counting, the siblings from Italy serve up Italian fare in Livingston.

Their children, Gabriella and Giuseppe, are now the general managers. They told CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock when the pandemic started, it was scary.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” Gabriella Ottaiano said.


To stay afloat, they started cooking up what they call the “Family Meal” — two hot trays, half a tray of salad, garlic knots, desserts, bread, a bottle of wine and a pizza for $39.99.

Calabria Restaurant & Pizzeria in Livingston says the support they’ve received during the pandemic has been “astronomical,” so now they want to do what they can to help others in need. (Credit: CBS2)

“That’s what saved my family and our business,” Gabriella Ottaiano said.

The community lined up and kept them going.

“Their support has been astronomical. We can’t thank them enough,” Giuseppe Ottaiano said.

“Forty years in business, it’s our time to give back,” Gabriella Ottaiano said. “It’s going to be tough again.”

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That is why the family took to social media Monday, offering free food for those in need.

The post reads in part, “If you are not working/not getting a paycheck/struggling to make ends meet… please don’t let yourself or your kids go to sleep with an empty stomach.”

“Just find us on Facebook, send us a message,” Gabriella Ottaiano said.

They’ll respond with piping hot pizza and other house specialties for pick-up or delivery.

More than just a delicious meal, they’re serving up hope for a brighter future.

So far, the Ottaianos have fed more than a dozen families. They hope word continues to spread so they can help more.

Loyal customers are already chipping in, buying gift cards to fuel the effort.


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