Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘I grew up eating no chips, and no processed foods whatsoever.’

Girolamo Maniscalchi, East Norwich

“I grew up in a small town in Sicily. In my family, farming has been a cherished tradition passed down from one generation to the next. From the earliest of my memories, I can vividly recall farming with my father, surrounded by nature. We raised our own animals, we grew our own vegetables. The value and appreciation for cultivating whole foods and produce were ingrained in me from an early age. I grew up eating no chips, and no processed foods whatsoever. My mom, she was a stay-home-mom, and she just prepared everything from breakfast to dinner. To this day, I continue her culinary legacy.

We make everything in-house, from our fresh mozzarella to our dough.

“In 2007, I met my wife, and our relationship grew serious. She suggested that I move to Long Island with her for three months to see how I liked it. That decision changed my life. Sixteen years later, we have two beautiful children and call East Norwich our home. Despite having a pharmacy degree, I desired a career with flexible hours to be close to my children and cook for them. I ventured into the restaurant and distribution business, allowing me to spend time with my family while consulting for the industry. Although I loved the restaurant business, I wanted to escape the demanding hours. This led my wife and I to the idea of a mobile wood-fire oven. Now I am teaching my children how to handcraft fresh pizza with locally sourced ingredients and whole foods all over the Island. And they love it! Long Island for three months out of the year, we make the most beautiful vegetables ever. It reminds me of how I used to help my father’s farm growing up in Sicily.

“My children love to top the pies with the toppings. We make everything in-house, from our fresh mozzarella to our dough. I want my customers to eat a whole pizza and feel still light; they want more. Some of our popular pies are the Margarita and Brooklyner. I am so happy I get to spend time with my family and make people happy with my pies. To anyone who is looking to start their own business, my advice is, don’t start running before you start walking. There are going to be bad days and good days, but as long as you believe in yourself, you can do anything. And of course, family support is the number one. I do everything for them.”

Interviewed by Starr Fuentes