October 21, 2021

Online show features Homer eatery

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Maureen Hess takes a phone order as her husband, Paul, removes a pizza from the oven at their Little Italy restaurant in Homer. The business will be featured on a food show.

HOMER — Little Italy Pizzeria at 125 S Main St., was the site Thursday for the filming of an online television show.

“If someone wants to experience good Italian food, then this is the place,” said Bill Vinci, co-founder and co-star of Empire Plate, a TV show that highlights family-owned restaurants, breweries and wineries in New York.

Vinci contacted Paul Hess, owner of Little Italy, and set up the filming, Vinci said Monday.

The episode filmed at Little Italy centered around the different pizzas and dinners made at the restaurant, Hess said.

Some of the items on the menu Hess credited for bringing the crew to the restaurant were the meat-lover’s and chicken wing pizzas, as well as the homemade meatballs, Hess said.

Hess has owned the business for about a year now, he said, after working there for 32 years. After graduating from high school, Hess has worked at the business since starting as adishwasher.

“It’s nice to have people interested in our food and the business,” Hess said. “This show allowed us to showcase our menu to the public.”

Empire Plate set its sights on Little Italy after numerous comments on the show’s Facebook page asked it to do an episode at the restaurant, Vinci said. “It’s a way to help promote the business,” he said.

The way filming usually goes, Vinci said, is by taking a look at the history of the place and then diving into the restaurant. After learning the history, the crew goes over the menu items. Then Vinci and crew are taken into the kitchen, were they meet the staff and then watch the staff prepare specialties, Vinci said.

Next, Vinci and his son and co-host, Ryan, show how a dish is put together before going out to the customer, he said.

Empire Plate then leaves the kitchen for the rest of the episode and follows around wait staff and talks to customers, Vinci said. “We usually sit and get quotes from customers,” he said.

While at the restaurant, Paul and his staff prepared and served the crew chicken riggies and char-grilled chicken wings, Vinci said. “The food was fantastic and everything is prepared fresh,” Vinci said.

“It’s all about bringing in people who haven’t been there before,” Vinci said.

The show is almost at the end of filming its second season, which wraps up in November, Vinci said. It started as a Youtube show and after gaining a fan base started a website and continued the theme of the online episode.

“It was great having them, they were a great group of guys,” Hess said.