World-Class Italian Food Close To Home

First published on Jun. 01, 2022, 9:42 a.m.
By: Pamela Silvestri

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — La Bottiglia’s spin on Southern Italian food has been well-received by Advance readers. They’re loving Nino Cusenza’s first foray into the restaurant business. On this week’s episode of The Dish, the deliciousness of the food can be gleaned in an overview of apps, entrees and house-made desserts.

As Nino is a little camera shy, long-time server and bartender Sal Finazzo guides us through the menu. He brings the “yum” to life for viewers with a few cocktails and builds a Napoleon from behind the bar.

How did Nino come to open an Italian eatery in the midst of the Mexican and Latina-themed stores in this section of Port Richmond Avenue near Post Avenue?

As the landlord of the building, Nino was looking to replace a proprietor in the former Mammy’s Sports Bar. Mario Buonviaggio of civic group Port Richmond Strong answered that question.

La Botteglia
La Bottiglia’s pesto-sausage pasta with spinach. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)

He said, “The community was not really embracing that that idea of a traditional bar so we spoke with the owner we brainstormed. His hidden passion, we found out, was opening up a restaurant. We are supporting it. It’s a great place — the food is delicious —and it’s heart and soul is inside and outside of this establishment.”

Buonviaggio talked about some of the changes in the neighborhood. The billiards hall in the building formerly named “The Emporium” at 350 Port Richmond Ave. has morphed into a banquet operation open for do-it-yourself private parties on its second floor. Buonviaggio hopes that the restaurants on the surrounding business strip can be the source of its food.

La Botteglia
From left to right: Sal Finazzo, Mario Buonviaggio and Nino Cusenza. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)

Find out on The Dish what kind of restaurant the Port Richmond Strong group hopes for in the coming years. Buonviaggio says that La Bottiglia is just the beginning of the new places that will be drawn to the area. His aim is to attract small establishments run by the locals, not the “big box” conglomerates.

“There’s just no room for them here,” said the civic leader.

La Bottilgia — pronounced La Bo-tee-ya — can be found at 293 Port Richmond Ave., Port Richmond; 929-364-0505, It is open Tuesday through Thursday from noon until 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon until 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 9 p.m.