Since 1956, the Luigi DiBella family has been serving the best in wholesome, home-cooked Italian and American foods.
All of our dishes represent recipes that have spanned many family generations, the Italian recipes having roots deep in the “Old Country” of Italy. We cook with the finest all natural ingredients, such as whole milk mozzarella and ricotta, and use only the best imported Italian pastas, olive oil and aged cheeses. Our meats, seafood and produce are the freshest on the market. We have a fully stocked bar and many wonderful wines to compliment your meal.
Established in 1956 by Italian immigrant Luigi DiBella (1897-1996), Luigi’s restaurant remains Old-Saybrook’s longest running family restaurant. Originally a shoemaker in Clinton, Connecticut, Luigi began selling unique, stuffed Italian sandwiches next door to his shoe repair shop, which became increasingly popular with the townsfolk. By the early 1940’s he met local demand for the sandwiches that he had nicknamed, according to family legend, “grinders” by giving up shoe repair and throwing all his efforts into the “Tasty Sandwich Shop.”
With the help of his wife Gioseppina, and children, Salvatore (who attended the Culinary Institute of America,), Josephine, John, and Frank, Luigi expanded the menu and opened a small restaurant in Madison, Connecticut. Which they named the “Hob Nob”. After several years of success in that location, Luigi sold the business and opened a larger restaurant by renovating what was once a combination home and chicken pot pie restaurant on Route 1 in Old Saybrook, renaming it Luigi’s Restaurant.
Using more family recipes from “the Old Country,” the menu was expanded to include pizza and Italian dishes using a variety of fresh meats and seafood. Eventually, a bar was added, offering wines, beers, and cocktails.
Luigi and Gioseppina retired in the early 1960s, passing the business along to their children. Eventually all but Salvatore retired or moved on, but in 1979, Salvatore’s son Michael, earning both a culinary and business degree at Johnson and Wales College, became an active partner in the business. Salvatore’s other son, Leonard joined the business in 1984. In 1989, the three partners moved the restaurant to a larger location down the street, renovating a century-old colonial style home. Today, Luigi's great grandchildren have joined the labor force, representing the fourth generation to work in the family business.
Luigi’s Restaurant is now 63 years old, and has become a landmark in the community, employing generations of residents, sponsoring and contributing to local programs, hosting civic clubs and organizations and proudly displaying awards and accolades from various groups and media. The DiBella family extends its profound thanks to the Old Saybrook and Shoreline community for giving them the opportunity and support needed over the years to grow from Luigi’s humble beginnings selling “grinders’ to the successful restaurant of today.