Written by Michael P. Walsh
WEST HAVEN, CT – Mayor Nancy R. Rossi presented Aniello Cappetta a blue jacket on the steps of City Hall on Friday as part of the celebrations for the 21st Columbus Day in West Haven with his new title "Italian American of the Year".
Cappetta, who owned and operated Cappetta's Italian imports in Allingtown for almost a quarter of a century, was praised by Rossi for his "inspiring contributions to the design of the tapestry of our Italian-American community and the story of our diverse city."
During the 20-minute ceremony, 71-year-old Cappetta received a quote from the General Assembly by Dorinda Borer (D-West Haven), Charles J. Ferraro (R-West Haven) and Michael A. DiMassa (D-West Haven) Name of the delegation of the city.
He also received an official statement from Senior Advisor Jimmy Tickey on behalf of Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and an Italian flag by Paul M. Frosolone, President of the West Haven Italian American Civic Association, and Josephine Matera, former President of the Ladies Association of Auxiliary.
Each year, the West Haven Columbus Day Committee recognizes an Italian-based couple who serve in the close-knit Italian-American community of the city.
"Thanks to the mayor, it's a great honor for me," said Cappetta, who lives at Pagano Court, a dead end near Jones Street near First Avenue. "Thank you, America, and thank you, West Haven!"
As the sound of Italian music blew in the late morning in honor of the Italian explorer, Cappetta greeted his ancestors with dozens of his closest friends and relatives, as well as a number of city officials, Allingtown and West Rifle Weirs and descendants of Old Country folks dressed in red, white and green.
"I'm very proud of my father," an emotional Donato Cappetta told the crowd before exclaiming, "God bless America!"
Rossi also gave Aniello Cappetta a mayoral quote, which in addition to his son and his daughter Rosa Armellino and four of his grandchildren, who waving all Italian flags.
Before an Italian blessing from Notre Dame High School Minister Michael Abbott, Liz Levy sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the Italian national anthem "II Canto degli Italiani". The renditions were followed by a welcome by the Master of Ceremonies, Deputy Lord Mayor Lou Esposito.
Rossi then made heartwarming remarks about Cappetta and said, "Your indomitable spirit and your deserving good works are testament to America's promise, they are living proof of the American dream!"
Cappetta, one of 13 siblings, was born and raised in Acerno in the Italian province of Salerno. He served in the Italian Air Force and also worked as a carpenter.
In 1970, at the age of 22, Cappetta and his wife, the former Palma Malangone from Acerno, left their homeland in southwestern Italy and came to America to "lead a better life and start a family".
After settling in New Haven, the couple worked for a construction company in West Haven.
In 1972, Cappetta and his wife opened their first restaurant, Mama Lucia's in Ansonia, and became the first family members to open a restaurant.
The couple sold the restaurant in 1976. During the next eight years, they worked in the home-based hospital of Saint Raphael, New Haven, raising their four children: Luigi, Rosa, Donato, and Maria.
The couple moved to West Haven in 1983.
A year later, Cappetta and his wife founded a new company and opened LP Video on Route 1 in Allingtown. The store, which sells Italian American films, introduced the couple to the great people of West Haven, he said.
In 1989, the couple returned to the restaurant and opened opposite LP Video Cappetta's Italian Imports. The business at 188 Boston Post Road began as a deli and specialized in groceries from Italy.
A few years later, Cappetta expanded its offering to include pizza and other Italian specialties as well as catering services.
Soon, the business that Cappetta and his wife built in the heart of Allingtown became a "meeting place" for home-style and hard-to-find Italian dishes.
Although he passed it on to the sons Donato and Luigi in 2013, Cappetta, whose wife died in 2016, still spends time in the neighborhood institution, today Cappetta's Italian Imports Pizza and Catering.
Cappetta's passion for community service is to be an ambassador of his rich heritage.
He is a longtime member of Club Napoli in Northford and the Italian American Club of East Haven.
Cappetta's name will connect with the 20 former recipients of Columbus Day on a commemorative plaque in the town hall.
(Picture 1) – Aniello Cappetta receives an embroidered "Italian American of the Year" jacket from Mayor Nancy R. Rossi at the 21st annual Columbus Day Celebration on the steps of the Town Hall on Friday. (City photo / Michael P. Walsh)
(Picture 2) – West Haven Italian American of the Year Aniello Cappetta, second from left, receives a quote from the General Assembly from left, State Representatives Charles J. Ferraro, R-West Haven, Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven and Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven, on behalf of the city's delegation, as Mayor Nancy R. Rossi looks on. (City photo / Michael P. Walsh)
(Picture 3) – Aniello Cappetta receives an Italian flag from Paul M. Frosolone, President of the West Haven Italian American Civic Association, and Josephine Matera, former President of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Association. (City photo / Michael P. Walsh)