By LOIS KINDLE
Debra Nicola’s grandparents, Carmela and Angelo Vitale, were bakers who migrated from a small town in the province of Benevento, Italy, to the Bronx, N.Y., in 1935. They had opened their first bakery in Italy in 1920 and opened a second one, Vitale Italian Bakery, when they came to the United States. They also opened a restaurant two doors down, immediately across from the old Yankee Stadium.
The MiraBay resident was 7 years old when she began helping out in the bakery, spending time with her grandparents as often as she could, learning skills she would eventually need much later in life.
“I was learning the trade,” Nicola said. “They always wanted me to become a chef.”
She hadn’t a clue at the time she would one day start a catering business and use some of the same 100-year-old recipes her grandparents were passing on to her.
As a student majoring in computer science at New York University, Nicola worked at the family’s restaurant every other day, nights and weekends. She graduated, worked for IBM for 25 years, kept her hand part time in the family restaurant and became a successful businesswoman, wife and mother of four.
The family sold its business in 1990, and Nicola had her own Mediterranean restaurant in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., from 1999 to 2003.
Nicola moved to Florida five years ago. In January 2021, she founded a catering business called Cibo Delizioso (Italian for delicious food), which has really taken off over the past several months.
“I was born into this business. It’s part of my DNA,” Nicola said. “My whole life has revolved around food, family and friends.
“It’s my passion to cook and bring people together to enjoy each other’s company over a great meal,” Nicola said. “If you’re enjoying food, you’re happy.”
Although Nicola bakes a variety of mouth-watering cheesecakes, cannoli, tiramisu and other desserts, she also prepares an array of delicious savory dishes, including lasagna; eggplant, chicken or veal parmigiana; meatballs; sausage, peppers and onions; chicken marsala; baked rigatoni and more, using only organic meats and natural ingredients.
Custom orders and special dishes are available upon request.
“My specialty is Italian food, but I also prepare American dishes and BBQ,” she said. “My lasagna and Italian meatballs are favorites. I make my own Italian sausage and ricotta, my own tomato sauce, use only fresh herbs and the finest cheeses. Everything is made from scratch, and many of my recipes have secret ingredients. I also make a delicious gluten-free pasta.”
Nicola caters dinner parties, weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties, tea parties, bridal or baby showers and wine tastings. She can accommodate groups of six to 200 and prepares food for events in a commercial kitchen in Tampa or, for private dinner parties, in a client’s home.
Cibo Delizioso’s services are available anywhere within 90 minutes of Apollo Beach, with free delivery to sites within 10 miles. For more information, to learn about pricing or to place an order, visit https://cibodelizioso.com/ or call 646-678-2673.