Cara Mia: A Taste Of Old Italy In Your Backyard

BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
Staff Writer

Queens residents do not need to fly to Europe to enjoy some of the finest authentic Italian cuisine with Cara Mia right in their backward.

Today, Cara Mia is a well-known establishment in the Borough, offering locals a massive variety of quality Italian dishes. But much like all great family-run businesses, the restaurant had humble beginnings.

Cara Mia has been in business for more than 40 years and has become an essential family-run restaurant in the Borough. Photo by Joe Marvilli

Cara Mia has been in business for more than 40 years and has become an essential family-run restaurant in the Borough. Photo by Joe Marvilli

It all began many years ago in Broccostella, Italy – a small city located just 100 kilometers east of Rome. It was there that couple Tomaso and Armada DeCiantis worked on a small farm, both aspiring to migrate to the United States to open up their own business.

It was not until the late 1960s that Tomaso and Armada were able to migrate to America to fulfill their dream, arriving at Ellis Island with their three children, Larry, Anna and Carlo, who is now the owner of Cara Mia.

After much persistence and hard work, in 1970, the DeCiantis family opened Cara Mia on Hillside Avenue in Queens Village. Although their culinary experience was scarce, the couple was committed to learning all they could about Italian cuisine so their patrons could experience authentic meals.

In its early years, all of the family members helped out in the restaurant – each gaining the strong work ethic and cooking skills needed to operate a successful restaurant.

“I’ve been working here since I was a kid,” Carlo DeCiantis said. “It was always a family operation and a family effort. When I worked there as a kid, I used to do some prep, wash dishes, make salads, make pizzas and eventually, I started cooking.”

Carlo would eventually inherit and take over the business in the late 1990s so that his parents could retire. But even after their son took over the business, Tomaso and Armada were always in Cara Mia’s kitchen, preparing fresh ravioli, gnocchi and meatballs, much like they did decades ago.

“We have customers that lived around Queens Village and moved, but they always come back. They like to return to their roots,” Carlo said.

As Cara Mia continued to grow in popularity among Queens’ residents, in 2006, Cara Mia opened up a second location in Seaford, Long Island. Keeping true to its family values, Carlo’s son, Sergio DeCiantis, manages the second location.

When asked what he loves most about working at Cara Mia, Carlo, who now has decades of culinary experience under his belt, said he loves being able to serve his customers some of his tasty Italian creations.

“I love it when my customers are happy with the food. It makes me feel good,” he said. “I also really enjoy cooking. I’ve been doing it since I was 12, so I’ve gotten pretty good at it.”

Cara Mia is located at 220-20 Hillside Ave., Queens Village and 39-35 Merrick Road, Seaford. For more information, call (718) 740-9118 or visit www.caramiarestaurant.com.

Reach Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or nkozikowska@queenspress.com or @nkozikowska.