Yes, being around your family can drive you crazy. But for Ettore Pennacchia, family is everything. For 30 years, the North Fork restaurateur has owned and operated Touch of Venice, an Italian eatery that opened in Mattituck and moved to Cutchogue in 2011. But he doesn’t do it alone -- his wife Barbara and their four children, Michael, Brian, Karyn and Andrew, all play a role in keeping the restaurant successful.
“We’re always together, all of the time,” Pennacchia, 66, said of his family. “Even on our days off, my children will call me and say ‘Dad, what are we doing today, can we go to the beach?’ We never get sick of each other, and I think family like that is hard to find nowadays.”
Pennacchia marched alongside his family Saturday as grand marshal of the 11th annual North Fork St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Cutchogue.
For parade coordinator and past North Fork Chamber of Commerce president Joe Corso, Pennacchia’s familial attitude transcends on the community, making him and his restaurant a centerpiece of life in Cutchogue.
“Ettore really steps up to the plate when it comes to giving back,” Corso said. “We don’t really have too many restaurants in Cutchogue, and since his restaurant opened here, it’s really become an anchor for the business community.”
During the parade, Touch of Venice was a hub of activity, shepherding in cold and wet onlookers who were searching for an escape from the pouring rain.
Under a white tent surrounding the storefront, Andrew Pennacchia, 25, doled out Irish soda bread zeppoles and Guinness meatballs -- classic Italian dishes served with an Irish twist.
“I started working here when I was 10 years old, washing dishes with my father and older brothers,” Pennacchia, who now works as a waiter, said. “We put a lot into building this business.”
After the parade, Ettore Pennacchia returned to his restaurant with his green grand marshal sash in hand and was greeted with an onslaught of hugs, handshakes and inside jokes from fellow community members. One woman placed her hand on his shoulder, giving Pennacchia a warm congratulations on being a father yet again.
“Not me -- it’s my daughter, she just had a baby,” Pennacchia said. “My third grandchild. Our family just keeps getting bigger.”