Stamford family carries on Old World customs

Map Stamford

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — In an old barn on Newfield Avenue, Dominico Schinella is practicing Old World customs from his homeland of Italy.

He’s grinding his own sausage, making his own wine and sharing both of these delicious items with family and friends.

“I do this for a hobby,” Schinella said, standing in the back room where he stores about a dozen large jugs of wine. “I give away a lot of wine.”

It may seem surprising to some that Schinella has time for such hobbies as he’s a successful developer who has worked on numerous projects in the Stamford area — including the Bull’s Head Shopping Center. He built a Mediterranean-style home next-door to the barn for his son, Joseph Schinella, and renovated a home for himself down the street.

“We kind of congregated on Newfield Avenue and have the only Italian villas,” Joseph Schinella said with a laugh.

On a recent afternoon, the father and son showed off their Old World-inspired properties and told the story of how the family ended up there.

Dominico Schinella and his wife came to America in 1978 from the small town of Arena, Italy. Not fluent in English, he started with masonry work and then got into construction.

“It’s like one of those true success stories,” Joseph Schinella said of his father. “He literally came here with nothing. He’s still going strong at 61.”

Joseph Schinella said his grandparents remain in Arena, and his parents visit them often. He named his business, “Arena Real Estate Services,” after his parents’ hometown and has an office in their 1475 Newfield Ave. residence.

Joseph Schinella gave a tour of his residence, which is on the market for $2.3 million. It was originally built in 1951, rebuilt in 1997 and purchased by his family in 2004.

“It has a great flow,” he said. “The architectural details of the house are amazing.”

The 11,298-square-foot mansion has five bedrooms, 8.5 bathrooms and includes a giant master bedroom with a balcony and fireplace, a hot tub/spa room, a greenhouse and built-in swimming pool. It also includes beautiful hard-wood and marble floors throughout the house, as well as other ornate details.

“It’s too big for me and my wife — when you’re young, you like everything big,” Dominico Schinella said. “It’s a lot of maintenance, but it’s a beautiful house.”

As he stepped outside, where two large cement lions guard the front door, Dominico Schinella said his next house will be no more than 3,000-square feet.

Over at Joseph’s house, the younger Schinella said they built it in 1999 and he resides there with his wife and two daughters. The house has a European feel, with small balconies at the windows and terra cotta roof tiles.

“This barn has got to be a couple hundred years old,” Joseph Schinella said, standing outside his house. “The barn was just part of the property.”

Stepping inside the barn, you immediately see several hundred pieces of sausage hanging from the rafters. Dominico Schinella said he buys the meat at Hunt’s Point in the Bronx, grinds it through a machine, adds salt and pepper, and puts it in a pork casing.

“Once you eat this, you have to peel the casing off,” he said.

Looking up at the sausage, Joseph Schinella said he helps his father with the process and is happy to carry on his family tradition, although he’s doubtful his daughters will be interested.

“My friends’ parents used to die for this,” Joseph Schinella said. “You can’t get it anywhere. You can make it as hot as you want it.”

Heading to the back of the barn, Dominico Schinella said he buys grapes to make his own red and white wine and even won first place in a wine-making contest at the Italian Center a few years ago. It was for his Pinot Grigio.

Standing near a long row of large and small jugs of wine, Dominico Schinella said he lets some age for a few years and others are consumed right away.

And just like he’s passing his knowledge down, Dominico Schinella said that’s how he learned.

“I grew up on a farm,” he said. “I learned it from my father. He still does it and he’s 85 years old.”

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Information from: The Advocate, http://www.stamfordadvocate.com

 

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