La Sorrentina Celebrates 3 Years in Rockaway

Beach 129th seems to be getting better and better, with more businesses coming to the block. Among them is La Sorrentina, which made the move from Brooklyn and took over Plum Tomatoes in 2019, and has quickly become a staple. This month, La Sorrentina is celebrating its three-year anniversary with a special menu and even a complimentary bottle of wine as a thank you to customers.

For 32 years, La Sorrentina was a go-to Italian restaurant in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. But John Mazzola, who lived in Rockaway, wanted to bring it a little closer to home. When an opportunity opened up to buy Plum Tomatoes on Beach 129th Street, Mazzola jumped on it. And shortly after, he closed the Brooklyn location. “I wanted to be closer to my family. I’m getting older and when you own a restaurant, you’re married to the business. I wanted to make it easier for my family to see me a bit more, working three minutes from the house,” Mazzola said. Bringing his business to his own neighborhood meant getting more time to spend with his first love—his  wife of 49 years, his kids and eight grandkids, while still working on his second “marriage” to La Sorrentina. In many ways, those two things have merged, with some of his kids and even grandkids, including his 14-year-old granddaughter who occasionally handles the phones, getting involved in the business that he works at seven days a week. And Mazzola says he intends to keep it that way. “I don’t plan to ever retire because it is my life, my joy. I’ll be 75 in three months and I’m still making pizzas. I love being with people and it makes me feel good,” he said.

Surf and Turf is one of the many specials on the prix fixe menu.

La Sorrentina also makes locals feel good. When he took over the spot in October 2019, Mazzola slowly transformed the long-establish Italian eatery and pizzeria on Beach 129th, turning it more into a fine-dining Italian restaurant. With popular dishes like veal chops, filet mignon bordese, Chilean Sea Bass, lamb chops, lobster tails, delectable chicken dishes using Bell & Evans chicken, fresh seafood, and plenty of pasta dishes and appetizers to start, plus fresh bread and mouthwatering olive oil on the table, along with a choice of more than 150 varieties of wine, La Sorrentina has become a local go-to for a nice night on the town. And with live music on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with even Mazzola occasionally taking over the mic to belt out a Neil Diamond tune, those nights out sometimes become a party. And the staples are still there. La Sorrentina still offers pizza, rolls and other quick bites for a more casual experience.

Mazzola says he’s happy he brought La Sorrentina to Rockaway three years ago. “I love Rockaway. I was here for 49 years on the Beach block of 133rd. I left and came back, and all my family is here now. And I love 129th. I wish there was more parking, but business has been very good. Thank you to the neighborhood and people who live on the peninsula who support us all year. Plus we still see people from Brooklyn that come see me here now and they’re happy about it,” he said.

Shortly after opening in 2019, like every business, La Sorrentina was faced with Covid and the restrictions that came along in 2020. It pushed Mazzola to open an outdoor dining area on the side of the building, which he says saved the business. “We are lucky. We had people coming for the outdoor dining and could do parties outside. I’d be out of business if it wasn’t for outside seating,” he said. Now the outdoor space has become a regular extension of the restaurant and a party space that can accommodate up to 40 people.

As a thank you to his customers for the support and in celebration of La Sorrentina’s third anniversary in Rockaway, the restaurant is dishing out some nice special offers. For the month of October, when customers dine in on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and make a reservation for two or more people, they’ll receive a free bottle of wine with their meal. Plus, La Sorrentina offers a daily two-course prix fixe dinner special for $34.99 with a choice of an appetizer like baked clams, Caesar salad, fried calamari or caprese, and an entrée choice of rib eye steak, lobster, lamb chops, two pork chops or surf and turf. Plus the regular menu is always available.

The outdoor space makes for a nice party spot.

La Sorrentina is located at 420 Beach 129th Street. The restaurant is open for dine-in, take out, delivery, catering and parties. Take advantage of the anniversary special by making your reservations today. For reservations, call 718-474-1775.

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