What makes Villaggio Iccara unique lies in the details of our history, rooted in the values of family and tradition. My father, Giovanni Balsamo, creator and owner, has upheld these values throughout his life, the life of his family and the development of his restaurant. His recollection of his early life portrays how these ideals have shaped Villaggio Iccara…
“I arrived in America on May 13th 1977. The first song I heard in the United States was Hotel California. I took a Greyhound bus from JFK to Richmond, Virginia. I began work in a restaurant with 250 seats and no dish washing machine. I washed from 5pm to 2am daily. After eight months I finally received my dish washer’s “diploma” and became an official dishwasher, but cooking was my true passion. I learned each recipe with my eyes as I washed and I remember proclaiming to the chef that I would one day be in his place. I eventually was able to take up cooking and in 1979 I moved north to Bucks County, Pennsylvania in hopes of employment as a cook. Because there were no positions available for cooks and I had experience with pizza, I became a pizza man. It was during this time that I met my wife Phyllis. We opened our first pizza place in 1981 when I was 23 years old and then moved to a different location in Hamilton Square. In 1985 I bought a tiny shack in Yardville, more for the property than the actual place. From the moment I purchased it I knew what it would become but unfortunately it took longer to build than I thought. After thinking about where I’d been and where I came from, I decided to name my restaurant Villaggio, Iccara (Village of Iccara) after my birthplace of Carini, Italy. The ancient name for Carini is Iccara, after the greek god Iccarus. Iccarus’ father gave him wings to escape from jail but warned him not to fly too closely to the sun or the wings would melt. He disobeyed his father and, according to the tale, landed in what was consequently named Iccara. Finally in 1999, with the support of my family and the strength of my heritage in mind, my dream came to fruition and Villaggio Iccara was officially opened.”
– John Balsamo
My father’s dream has now transformed into more than he ever expected. Although much has changed, much remains the same…each day you can expect to see one of our faces, adding a personal touch to traditional Italian dining, creating an intimate experience that our family has taken pride in for 22 years. To customers past and present, we thank you for sharing in our history as well as our love of food and family. To new customers, we’d like you to come see for yourself how a true italian family does dinner.
John, Phyllis, Vincent, Cristina, Domenick, Marco and Alex Balsamo