Sam Marranca, owner of Cafe Italia, holds a plate of fresh vegetables.
wasn't about to let muddy floodwater ruin the restaurant he
worked so hard to create.
The owner of Cafe Italia in Pittston could have called it quits, but he knew he had a good thing going at the Italian restaurant.
When the Susquehanna River overflowed its banks in September, the restaurant had been open less than a year.
Rising floodwaters forced Marranca
to evacuate the building on River Road, leaving behind equipment, furniture and products.
All were destroyed by the six feet of water that made it into the building.
"I lost everything.
I had to redo it all," he
owed it to his
loyal customers to come back better than before.
took time during the repair process to make several improvements to the restaurant, giving it a more upscale feel with more room for patrons.
The restaurant reopened after 54 days of hard work.
"I dressed it up a little bit," Marranca
said, pointing out the new hardwood floors and expanded dining areas.
"That 54 days took a lot out of my life."
Several glass wine bottles, nestled in wicker bases along a dining room ledge, somehow escaped destruction, even when coolers and freezers were flipped over from the floodwater, Marranca
chose to save them, and set them out again after giving them a good scrub and filling them with colored liquid.
is Marranca's first dining establishment.
chose to open the restaurant because he
loves food and knows quite a bit about Italian cuisine due to his
Sicilian heritage, he
He was born in raised in Pittston, an area rich with Italian heritage.
One of the restaurant's big draws is Marranca's commitment to using fresh ingredients for all his
also imports items from Italy like espresso, served in cups from the same country.
"I never bought frozen chicken or fish in the restaurant," he
"You'll taste the difference.
You use quality, you're going to taste it."
Appetizers like fried calamari and shrimp scampi are always popular, Marranca
said, as well as the fresh soups, including a seafood bisque that he
"It's the only soup I make, and they rave about it," he
For the main course, there's Veal Milanese, a sauteed veal cutlet served with tomatoes, black olives, mozzarella and fresh garlic; or seafood fra diavolo, a medley of lobster, clams, mussels, and calamari in a spicy red sauce.
Any dish made with vodka sauce is also a hit, Marranca
"People will get that on the side," he