Drive down Main Street in New Port Richey and you will see a restaurant adorned with the image of a half moon. There you can dine on pizza and Italian food in a quaint and friendly atmosphere.
The business is called Mezzaluna Pizzeria and Ristorante, 5749 Main St New Port Richey. The woman behind it all is Michelle Filippou. She’s the establishment's owner, and this is her story.
Filipou comes from an “Italian” family and was born and raised in Rhode Island, she said in an email interview with Patch. Her aunt and a grandmother were the cooks in the family, and she learned a lot from them.
Filipou began working in the restaurant industry at the age of 17. She worked in a family restaurant most of her life. Then she had two boys: Michael, who is now 15, and Nickolas, who is now 19. She wanted to stay at home and raise them.
In 2006, she and her then husband opened a restaurant in Fayetteville, Ga., but they later got divorced and parted ways.
Filipou eventually found her way down to New Port Richey thanks to family. Her mother lives in the area and introduced her to a “quaint town.”
Filippou “loved it.” She moved down here in 2009 and opened her business in October of that year. Filipou now has a staff of seven, and her younger son Michael helps out at the restaurant. She also sometimes doubles as a cook.
Filippou says she loves the people in the area.
“I have met a lot of amazing people and became real good friends. That is what keeps me going...the people,” she said.
Filippou said this is what makes her business different.
“I am different because I care," she said. "I care about every customer that walks in my store. I want them to feel at home."
She said she adds to the town because her restaurant is “quaint” and "family friendly.” She also touts her “good food,” “great staff” and “unique pizza.” She operates out of a 100-year-old building, she said. She also has live music Friday and Saturday nights, does catering, and a monthly adoption event called Yappy Hour.
Filippou acknowledges the economy is tough right now. She encourages folks to patronize local businesses.
“I try so very hard to bring people downtown,” she said. “I love the town, but a lot of people still till this day (do not) know about this little town. I love my store so much. Love the people that I met, have a staff that cares...I could not do it with out them. This is my life. …All I have is Mezzaluna and my family.
Want to check out at Mezzaluna?
- Address: You can find it at 5749 Main St New Port Richey, FL 34652.
- Hours: Mon - Thu, 11am - 9pm; Fri, Sat, 11am - 10pm; Sun, noon - 8pm
- Menu: Find the full selection of food at Mezzaluna's website.