City Notes

Flashlight Halloween Haunt moved to Monday night in Painter Park

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 25, 2019 — The Department of Parks and Recreation’s Flashlight Halloween Haunt has been rescheduled for Monday night at the Painter Park tennis courts, 190 Kelsey Ave. It was originally slated for Oct. 22 but was postponed by rain.

The free event, for city residents, includes a candy corn guess and a contest for best costume. Trick-or-treaters must bring a flashlight and a candy bag to search for ghoulish goodies.

Prizes are awarded for best costume in each age group.

The hunt schedule is 6:05 p.m., ages 3 and younger; 6:25 p.m., ages 4-5; 6:50 p.m., ages 6-7; and 7:05 p.m., ages 8-10.

Participants should register 10-15 minutes before their hunt time and must show proof of residence. Only one adult may assist a child in the hunt for ages 3 and under; all other age groups hunt unassisted.

Trick-or-treaters are asked to bring nonperishable items for the West Haven Emergency Assistance Task Force, which provides food for residents in need.

Skeleton Fest

Skeleton Fest spooking West Haven through Thursday

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 25, 2019 — West Havens first spooktacular” event, Skeleton Fest, is underway through Thursday. The festival highlights fun Halloween activities in a citywide celebration.

The event is being held as part of the city’s ongoing sustainability efforts to become certified under the SustainableCT initiative.

See the official Skeleton Fest Poster.


West Haven poet laureate holding Fall Poetry Extravaganza on Nov. 2-3

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 25, 2019 — The Fall Poetry Extravaganza presented by West Haven’s poet laureate, Tony Fusco, will take place from 1-5 p.m. Nov. 2-3 at Yale University’s West Campus, Building 410, 100 West Campus Drive, Orange.

The program is open to the public with free parking.

Fusco, a lifelong resident who in April was appointed to the honorary position of poet laureate by Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, will read poems from his newest book, “Don’t Make Me Laugh,” at 1 p.m. Nov. 3.

Read the official News Release.

See the Schedule.

As the city’s first official poet, Fusco will appear at readings and conduct workshops as an advocate for the reading and writing of poetry.

A graduate of West Haven High School, he has a master’s degree in creative writing from Southern Connecticut State University and is co-president of the Connecticut Poetry Society.


Driver safety course offered Dec. 11

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 25, 2019 — The Allingtown/West Haven Senior Center will offer an AARP Driver Safety Program from noon-4 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Johnson Community Center, 201 Noble St.

The program is designed to help sharpen driving skills, develop strategies to adjust to age-related vision changes, develop hearing and reaction times, and learn about the effects of medication on driving performance.

Participants must complete the class to receive a certification for insurance purposes.

The fee is $15 for AARP members and $20 for nonmembers, payable to AARP.

To register, call the senior center at 203-937-3507.


Committee gives $34K to YNHH for breast cancer program

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 22, 2019 — From left, Janine Hoffmann, senior administrative assistant to Dr. Brigid Killelea, the interim director of the Smilow Breast Program at Yale New Haven Hospital; Bethany Larkin, assistant patient services manager at the Smilow Breast Center; and Camille Servodidio, program manager of women’s oncology services at the Smilow Cancer Hospital, receive a $34,000 check from Mayor Nancy R. Rossi and West Haven Breast Cancer Awareness Committee members Anthony Cordone and Beth A. Sabo on Tuesday at City Hall.

The funds were raised in part at the committee’s 19th annual Icy Plunge for the Cure in January, which celebrated the 20th anniversary of the West Haven Breast Cancer Awareness Program, and at the Dubel’s Cafe Golf Tournament in October 2018.

The money will maintain funding for the next two years for patient information binders, which are given to each person diagnosed with breast cancer at Smilow.

Since its inception in 2000, the Breast Cancer Awareness Program has collected about $700,000 for breast cancer research and education.

(City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Tree planting

West Haven officials, including Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, second from left, and Tree Commission members are joined by residents in the ceremonial planting of an American white oak at the main entrance of Painter Park on Saturday to mark the 100th anniversary of Connecticut’s “Arborist Law.” With Rossi are, from left, Commissioner Gail S. Burns, program coordinator Diane Dietman of the Department of Parks and Recreation, Adner Nelson, Commissioner Michelle Matteo, commission Chairman Robert Marra, Margaux Nelson and Ciara McCarthy. (City Photo/Hal Burns)

Tree planting commemorates centennial of ‘Arborist Law’

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 22, 2019 — Mayor Nancy R. Rossi and Tree Commission members planted a white oak at the main entrance of Painter Park on Saturday to mark the 100th anniversary of Connecticut’s “Arborist Law.”

The morning event was part of the Connecticut Tree Protective Association’s Centennial Oak campaign to expedite the planting of a white oak in each of the state’s 169 cities and towns.

West Haven officials planted the Quercus alba American white oak — the state’s official tree — at the park’s main entrance, just off Kelsey Avenue. The tree was donated by CTPA through Planter’s Choice Nursery of Newtown.

During the brief ceremony, commission Chairman Robert Marra and Commissioners Gail S. Burns and Michelle Matteo presented Rossi with a plaque from CTPA commemorating the historic planting.

The Arborist Law primarily focuses on professional arboriculture, defined as work done to improve the health of individual trees on public and private property.

Rossi is working with tree warden Leo Kelly and the commission to improve West Haven’s Tree Management Plan and tree inventory process, along with implementing a sustainable and safe treescape in the heart of downtown.

CTPA, organized in 1922 and based in Wallingford, is an educational association dedicated to advancing the care of Connecticut’s trees. The association’s more than 780 members are mostly composed of licensed arborists, tree wardens and tree care professionals.

According to its website, CTPA aims to accomplish its purpose through educational events, regular workshops, and outreach and publicity, as well as through the example provided by its membership.


Sabatino Tartufi CEO Federico Balestra, left, discusses his family’s 108-year-old business with, from right, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, state Rep. Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven, and Bysiewicz’s senior adviser, Jimmy Tickey, at the truffle-maker’s global headquarters on Front Avenue as part of a business tour of the city’s Allingtown section Oct. 17. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Bysiewicz, Rossi tour pair of businesses in Allingtown

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 22, 2019 — Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and Mayor Nancy R. Rossi talked shop with a pair of prominent Italian business owners as part of a business tour of the city’s Allingtown section Oct. 17.

Bysiewicz and Rossi, who were also joined by state Rep. Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven, visited Durante’s Pasta Inc. at 78 Fenwick St. in the morning and later toured the global headquarters of truffle-maker Sabatino Tartufi at 135 Front Ave.

With both businesses in full swing, the three officials chatted with Durante’s owner Angelo Durante and Sabatino Tartufi CEO Federico Balestra about the importance of businesses — large and small — in Connecticut and how they are driving economic growth statewide, including in West Haven.

“We love that you’re a global company in West Haven, Connecticut,” Bysiewicz told Balestra, whose family-owned business has been cultivating and distributing high-quality truffles for more than a century.

Rossi added: “I’m very glad you chose West Haven. I couldn’t be happier.”

Balestra, of Greenwich, whose company is the largest manufacturer, importer and distributor of fresh and preserved truffles worldwide, relocated his plant from the Bronx, New York, to West Haven in 2012.

The 60,000-square-foot site on Front Avenue, formerly Matlaw’s Food Products Inc., was redesigned to accommodate Italian-made machines and the largest kitchen in the U.S. to taste truffle honey and truffle butter.

Truffles, which grow beneath trees, are edible, potato-shaped fungi regarded as a delicacy. Balestra’s “diamonds of the earth” are grown in Italy, Spain, France and Australia.

During their walk-through of Sabatino, Bysiewicz, Rossi and DiMassa learned about all things truffle from Balestra and Culinary Vice President Steven Capodicasa, who noted that more than 200 species of truffles exist.

“The blend of our modern technologies and traditional recipes creates the ultimate truffle experience,” Balestra said.

The three officials toured the plant’s facility for filling, capping and labeling truffle oil bottles, along with special rooms for canning, pasteurizing, storing and shipping products.

Sabatino Tartufi was established in 1911 by Balestra’s grandparents, Sabatino and Giuseppina Balestra, in Umbria, Italy, where they opened their first store and started distributing baked goods, olive oil and vinegar.

Sabatino President Virgil Fisher said the third-generation company makes over 270 configurations of truffle products, including oils, seasonings, sauces, spreads, syrups and vinegars, at its Front Avenue production site, which serves North America.

The company has 39 employees in West Haven and also has a manufacturing plant in Umbria.

Sabatino has offices in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami, as well as in Toronto, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Durante’s, at the corner of Fenwick and Yates streets, specializes in a variety of home-style, fresh pastas, including fettucine, cavatelli, tortellini, gnocchi, ravioli, manicotti and shells.

The mom and pop operation was founded in 1985 by Durante’s parents, Amedeo and Carmelina Durante, who hail from Derby.

Durante, of Cheshire, told Bysiewicz, Rossi and DiMassa during their visit that he has tripled the pasta company’s distribution since taking over the family business 10 years ago, which now has eight employees.

Durante’s gourmet pasta products are made on the premises with time-honored family recipes and sold in the expanded front market. They are also available at select grocery stores and Italian restaurants across the state, including Biagetti’s in West Haven and Consiglio’s and Tarry Lodge in New Haven.

Durante, who has been making pasta since he was 4 years old, showed the three officials his arsenal of pasta-makers, including a century-old machine from Genoa, Italy, that sheets dough and a processor that extrudes dough to the shape of rigatoni.

He also showed them a temperature-controlled room for drying pasta, a 150-pound kettle for cooking marinara sauce and a room for storing shelves of dried pasta.

The tour culminated with Durante showing his 3-year-old front market, which displays his company’s pasta and Italian food products, including jarred sauces and olive oils, and features a deli and seating area.

Durante said the old corner market that longtime patrons perhaps remember is now used for storing flour and other ingredients.


A machine fills glass bottles with truffle oil before capping and labeling them. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


A basket of fresh truffles. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


A bin of sliced truffles. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


A selection of Sabatino Tartufi’s truffle oils on display in the front office. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


Angelo Durante, owner of Durante’s Pasta Inc. at 78 Fenwick St., uses a processor to extrude pasta dough to the shape of rigatoni as Mayor Rossi and Lt. Gov. Bysiewicz look on. The family-owned business was the first stop for Bysiewicz and Rossi on their business tour of Allingtown on Oct. 17. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


Shelves of fresh-dried cavatelli. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


The expanded front market. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


A display of Durante’s home-style pasta products in the front market. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Front sign

Durante’s Pasta Inc., an Allingtown neighborhood institution. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

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