This 75-Year-Old Restaurateur Is a Cheesecake Baking, Hugging Machine
Do you want an extended family? Become a regular at Trattoria 632.
Photos courtesy of Trattoria 632
It’s apropos that Trattoria 632, a Northern Italian restaurant and pizzeria in Purchase, is situated in what was once two separate residences that have been connected. The repurposed space is cozy and full of homey, familial charm, which is heightened by the genuine hospitality of the staff – from the bartender to the servers and managers and the GM, Anthony Mangone.
But the true spirit and liveliness behind it all is Anthony’s mother (and sole owner), Marie, who on any given evening splits her time between greeting the host of regulars in the main dining room and the upstairs kitchen where she makes her famous carrot cake and assorted cheesecakes (the pistachio is the favorite for many).
We met up with this septuagenarian matriarch (who is quite camera shy) to discuss her restaurant that has become like a second home for the many repeat customers.
Westchester Magazine: What was the catalyst to open a restaurant?
Marie Mangone: “My son lives in Purchase and he noticed the former restaurant, Jordan's Hilltop, had closed and he reached out to the landlord. We believed based on the area corporations [PepsiCo, Mastercard] and the local colleges [Purchase College, Manhattanville College] an Italian pizzeria restaurant would be a great concept. At first, we thought we would primarily be a pizzeria but ultimately, we became more of a [full-service] restaurant and it has been an upward trajectory since buying out the last partner in 2014.”
What is the key element(s) to a restaurant so that people want to return again and again?
“Our customer retention is extraordinary. I truly wish you could come five days in a row because you would likely see many of the same customers. We have the best customers in this industry, and many have literally become family. In fact, we just went to a customer's son's wedding. We now celebrate holidays with some customers. It has become an extension of our family.”
You recently brought aboard a new chef, Alessandro Dalessi [previously at Patricia’s of Morris Park and MP Taverna]. What do you like about him?
“We think the world of Alex. He is hard working and innovative, but we think the world of our whole team. In an industry wrought with turnover we are truly blessed that most of our staff has been with us beyond three years and more. Our entire kitchen team is very creative.”
Did he bring any new dishes to the menu and/or change any existing dishes to improve upon them?
“Alex has not changed our staple menu, but we encourage him and our kitchen team to produce new [daily] specials. For example, last evening he made pistachio-crusted wild halibut over farro and mission figs. That was a very unique pairing and well received. But on any given evening we can feature Nantucket Bay scallops which are a delicacy only served during the next four months. This past weekend we served [as a special] veal osso buco over porcini mushroom risotto.”
Does the restaurant have a signature dish?
“Our customer favorite special is our veal chop. We serve approximately fifty veal chops a week on special. Everyone loves it. And we are not a steakhouse. We use the best quality veal – milk-fed rack of veal. Our specials are ‘special.’”
You make a number of the desserts. Are your recipes in your head or do you follow from a book?
“My recipes are in my head ... and my recipes are my secret. I do not give them even to my own kids.”
What appeals to you about cooking/baking for people?
“My desire for baking is really the fulfillment I get from people's reactions. My son thinks it gives me a ‘big head,’ but I assure you my husband and I are the humblest people.”
Do you remember the first thing you ever cooked/baked?
“I’m 75 years old LOL! I do not remember the first thing I made but feeding my three sons growing up I was always cooking.”
What would you want someone to know who is coming to your restaurant for the first time?
“When they come in as a customer, we want you to leave as family. All of our team subscribes to this theory. We touch all of our customers and that is why they always come back; our customers know they will get a quality meal, excellent service, the best homemade desserts … and likely a hug when they leave.”
632 Anderson Hill Rd
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