Lake Norman & Mooresville

Cornelius family’s hospitality feeds town and helps others

Lucia, Gianna and Vincent Caminiti make homemade tomato sauce, using a machine that belonged to Lucia’s mother.
Lucia, Gianna and Vincent Caminiti make homemade tomato sauce, using a machine that belonged to Lucia’s mother. COURTESY CAMINITI FAMILY

The Caminiti family – dad Vincent, mom Lucia and daughter Gianna – are like most families. They love each other while still respecting their individual differences. What may be unusual about this family is that they also feel a responsibility to Cornelius.

Lucia loves to cook. “My Sicilian mother was a phenomenal cook, and I learned from her. I watched. She never had any recipes written down. So that’s how I cook. I open up the fridge and create. My family members tell me, ‘I’d love to have this recipe,’ and I have to answer, ‘I can show you how to make it.’”

“That’s when I started my blog. (ImNotaChefImItalian.blogspot.com) It’s a step to my dream: to write a cookbook concentrating on basic foods, like natural whole foods. We grew up eating right out of my father’s garden. Vegetables with rice and pasta, not a lot of meat. What my family ate came from tradition.”

Lucia’s daughter, 17-year-old Gianna, is a singer. “When I started high school, I didn’t have that much, besides school, to do,” she said. “I’m really not a sporty person, so I jumped into Glee Club immediately. Singing is something I can always go to. Music is emotional. It always makes me feel better. Even if I need to scream a song, I can.”

Gianna and her friend, Angela Arce, auditioned for the television show “The X Factor.” “About two years ago, through their website, we sent in a video of us singing ‘Jolene.’ We made it thought the first round and got called back. But they canceled the show, and I’m still angry,” Gianna said.

Vincent “keeps this ship moving,” Lucia said. Vincent owns the Brooklyn South restaurant in Cornelius. (The family also owns Brooklyn Boys in Mooresville and plans to open a new restaurant in Langtree, Novanta: Pizzeria Napoletana.)

Vincent said, “I’m a serial restaurant entrepreneur. Many men don’t get to make a living doing what they love. I do. This is my passion.”

Vincent does every job in the restaurant. “Besides the cooking part of it, is the service to people. You can make a great plate of food, but if no one else is going to eat it, who cares. The business may have started out as the food, but it has evolved into much more. It’s the hospitality, the background of the Italian cultural. But this is hard to learn. It’s just in the genetics.”

Part of the Caminiti family’s hospitality is a duty to our town. “We’ve lived and worked in the Cornelius community for 161/2 years, and part of our responsibility is to give back,” Lucia said.

They started their service to our town many years ago, when they had “Family Nights” to raise money for the elementary schools. The restaurant is decorated with plaques of sports teams they’ve sponsored. I originally met the family when the restaurant sponsored my son’s baseball team, about 15 years ago.

Even while doing this interview, I had to leave the restaurant early as they were holding a party for a girls’ high school basketball team. The restaurant, through the Caminiti family, donates food to Davidson College events and to churches. Each year, they hold fundraisers for ALS, breast cancer, bone marrow registry and for the Levine Cancer Institute.

On March 23, Brooklyn South will donate a percentage of their profits to the Levine Cancer Institute, the Mark Daidone Cancer Research Endowment. This endowment will be awarded yearly for research into the management of the early stages of cancer. A resident of Cornelius for more than 20 years, my husband, Mark, died in 2011 as a result of a neuroendocrine tumor on his pancreas.

So treat yourself to lunch or dinner at Brooklyn South Pizzeria. You’ll be eating great food and promoting a Cornelius business while helping a great cause. If you can’t attend the event, search “Mark Daidone Cancer” to donate online.

Lisa Daidone is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Lisa? Email her at ldaidone@hotmail.com.

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