Makin’ it in Brooklyn comes to Bensonhurst

The inaugural Made in Brooklyn Bensonhurst tour kicked off on Saturday, February 11.

Despite the chilly weather, there was good turnout and a lot of fun to be had on the sight-seeing trip led by Made in Brooklyn owner, Dom Gervasi.

Gervasi, who grew up in Bensonhurst, started the trip in front of Shabu Shabu, where the first Sbarro’s salumeria once reigned. The first stop was Da Vinci’s Pizzeria, a neighborhood landmark, where participants on the tour could get two slices and a drink for $5.

Gervasi, who doesn’t charge the businesses for its inclusion on the tour, said he merely wants to “celebrate creativity and ingenuity,” of people who have been making it in Bensonhurst for a long time. Da Vinci’s Pizzeria has been in business since 1966 and is now owned by Antonio and Angelo Gnerre, who inherited the pizza place from their father.

Continuing down 18th Avenue, the group passedCafé Italia and headed into Villabate Alba Bakery for some Italian pastries. Gervasi, who peppered the tour with anecdotes from his childhood, explained how Bensonhurst used to be an Italian neighborhood, but has had an influx of Asian immigrants.

This was especially poignant for Maximilian Balduzzi, a resident of Williamsburg but who is originally from Italy, because he found out that there are still places where he can come and feel connected to Italy’s unique culture.

Balduzzi, who has participated in several Made in Brooklyn tours, came because he is “a close friend of Dominick…I love him because he is really passionate [about what he does]”

Toward the end of the excursion, the group visited Lioni’s, where owner Paul DiSpirito laid out a spread of edibles to taste. DiSpirito echoed other business owners in saying the neighborhood has gone through some tremendous changes in the past decade.

The tour ended on New Utrecht Avenue with everyone in the group feeling the way Gervasi hopes everyone will feel at the end of his presentation: “By the end of the tour, you [know] how it feels to live in the neighborhood, you feel like you are a part of the neighborhood,” he explained.

Log onto the Made in Brooklyn website at for a list of tours and ticket information.

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