For Tia D’Addario, there’s never been any question of what she would do with her life. A passion for cooking simply runs in her blood. In fact, she is a descendant of the Celentano family, who ironically enough began their ravioli empire in Verona back in 1947.
D’Addario started her business, Tia’s Food of Love, in Montclair nine years ago, but the space was small and as her catering business grew, she needed to find a new home. She, too, found it in Verona.
“This turned out to be the perfect place for us.”
The location at 638 Bloomfield does seem fitting. The space, which was the site of a former catering business in back and an upholstery shop up front, was large and allowed D’Addario to continue operating her business while she renovated the storefront. Since moving in over the summer, she has been working on transforming the place into a warm and relaxing sales showroom to meet clients and plan their events. While still unfinished, the storefront has all the raw materials to make her vision a reality: original hardwood floors, high tin ceiling and huge windows.
D’Addario also plans to use a portion of the space for chef dinners. With D’Addario tailoring a menu to her clients’ personal tastes, a party of 10 can enjoy an evening of private dining. “People really love the exclusivity of having the attention on them for the evening,” she noted.
But for now, D’Addario is focused on the catering.
“We do everything – any type of event,” D’Addario said, as long as it takes place at an off-premises location. Catering meals from intimate dinner parties to full-scale weddings to Thanksgiving dinners, D’Addario offers a menu of nearly limitless options. Clients can choose from pesto chicken roulade and pecan-crusted sea bass to veal osso bucco and Italian Easter pie.
Although many of the items on D’Addario’s menu have flair, she said they are meant to be enjoyed by all. “Our food, while well-prepared and beautifully presented, is not food that’s not relatable.”
The selection of dishes for each event is something D’Addario guides but also solicits the opinions of her clients. She wants them to be able to take part in “creating a menu with the chef for their guests.” She stressed her objective is to craft “a party that the person really wants and is reflective of them.”
This personalized service, this “boutique style catering” as D’Addario calls it is the essence of her business.
“Every event is personalized to that customer’s likes, needs and budget.” She added, “At the end it creates a one-of-a-kind kind of party.”
But that’s not where D’Addario’s talents end. Her business also offers complete event design. Creating a “cohesive event,” her team handles everything from the menu to flowers to string orchestras.
Although D’Addario enthusiasm for designing the perfect party is clear, for her it all comes back to the food. “My goal is that people are feeling the love that I put into the food.”
This is what gives her business its name and what has driven D’Addario from a young age. “A big part of my passion for food comes from my family.” She added, “Growing up in a big Italian family, food was the basis of what we did. Food was always the main thread. To me, food memories are a feeling of love through food.”
D’Addario certainly feels the love, and she doesn’t take it for granted. “I always feel so lucky that I get to do what I love.”
No doubt, D’Addario loves what she does, but she admits it isn’t always easy. She refuses to take any short cuts, stressing, “It’s all done the real way – from scratch.”
According to D’Addario, though, this is the way it should be. As with life, D’Addario muses, so it is with cooking. “Anything that’s easy in the long run is not good for us.”