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Regalo Trattoria & Pizza Bar

Doug Bilotti, back row behind mascot Mr. Marinara, recently opened Regalo Trattoria & Pizza Bar in Northport with the encouragement of his family. Photo by Miguel Garcia

By Chris Mellides

Nestled in a strip mall on Fort Salonga Road in Northport, Regalo Trattoria & Pizza Bar is a family run Italian restaurant owned by attorney and St. James resident Douglas Bilotti. 

Chef Miguel Garcia, left, and Bilotti, right, present a freshly baked pizza. Photo by Claudia Reed

In addition to being a restaurateur, Bilotti operates his own law firm and serves as a justice for the Village of Nissequogue. The one dream that seemed to elude him for years was pursuing a career in the culinary industry. In January, however, the self-proclaimed “home chef” finally made that dream a reality. 

“When I was in high school, I always wanted to be a chef,” Bilotti said. “I enjoyed making food and I thought about going to culinary school at the time. For some reason, I decided to go to college and go to law school, but I always enjoyed cooking and enjoyed food, and I have some good friends in the restaurant industry as well.”

With its relaxing atmosphere and homey decor, Bilotti strives to make Regalo a prime destination for Italian comfort food on Long Island. The eatery has an expansive menu and serves everything from pizza to hamburgers, wings and a popular chicken francese dish, which the enthused owner claims is the “biggest seller that comes out of the kitchen,” apart from the pizza, of course. 

Previously, the restaurant went by the name La Casa Pizza, until Bilotti purchased the business at the start of this year. He kept the old kitchen staff and in part credits the success of Regalo to their expert knowledge and dedication.

A big part of what also makes Regalo special, according to Bilotti, are those family members he employs. Working alongside him are his sister Claudia Reed, his daughters Isabella and Christina, niece Laura Burns and his nephew Jimmy Burns. 

Reed said that she’s thrilled that her brother is pursuing one of his oldest dreams and she couldn’t be more supportive. 

“I am so happy for him,” she said. “It’s not often that we get to do something we dreamed about when we were younger — life gets in the way.”  

“We set out on a path, we get married, have children and we don’t have the time or financial security to do something our younger selves would have wanted to do,” she added. “I love that my brother is getting to fulfill a dream that he once had, and I love that I get to be part of it.” 

Reed is responsible for overseeing the operations of the staff. She moderates group texts for the delivery drivers and for the counter and also works the register, sweeps and buses tables. “I help where I’m needed,” she said. 

Bilotti’s nephew Jimmy Burns, left, and the owner share a table. Displayed on the wall behind them are photos of Bilotti’s grandparents when they were children.

Reed’s son, Jimmy Burns, is proving to be a vital employee with aspirations of becoming a business partner with his uncle one day.

The young restaurant employee graduated with an associate’s degree from Suffolk County Community College and said he doesn’t have plans to return to school. Instead, he sees himself becoming more immersed in the operation of his uncle’s restaurant.

“It means a lot to me,” Burns said “I like having the responsibility for the restaurant. I like that my uncle trusts me, I like that I know I’m doing something important for my family.”

“The highlights are that I have fun with my co-workers,” he added. “We laugh a lot. There are times when it’s busy, but there are also times when it doesn’t feel like work, and I like that.” 

Bilotti, when asked how he balances being a restaurateur, attorney and a village judge, admitted there have been a lot of late nights spent keeping up with everything and that it’s been a challenge to maintain his legal work while also ensuring that Regalo continues to thrive.

“Some days I do my legal work from the restaurant,” he said. “I take calls here, I bring my computer here every morning and get to work. So, it’s been working out and it’s been working out well. I have additional work and weekend time is always there as well to get some stuff done.”

Through continued hard work and a large emphasis on the support he receives from his family and the community his restaurant serves, Bilotti is confident that his business will continue to flourish. 

“It’s beyond Italian food, it’s everything,” Bilotti said. “It’s comfort food. It’s what people like, and it’s what people enjoy. It’s high quality and it’s affordable. We just want to be part of the community and have people feel that we’re part of the community and serve the community the best that we can, really.”