Tutti’s is not going anywhere.
The beloved family-owned Saugatuck restaurant celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. It should be a joyous time.
But a report on a local news site — headlined “With Hamlet Looming, Future Uncertain for Tutti’s Ristorante” — led to rumors of its imminent demise.
“People think we’re closing right after Christmas,” laments co-owner Maria Funicello.
“One person — a regular customer — was mad we hadn’t told him.”
They hadn’t told him, because it’s not true. Tutti’s is here for the long run.
The Hamlet at Saugatuck — a hotel/residential/retail project in and around the train station — is still in its developmental stage. Any changes to the popular restaurant — on Riverside Avenue, at the “T” with Charles Street — are a ways off.
Maria’s history in Westport extends far beyond Tutti’s. Her husband Pasquale Funicello owned Angelina’s — for nearly a decade. His partners included his father, mother and 2 sisters. They sold the Post Road trattoria in 1981.
Pasquale and Maria had been married the year before. They moved back to their native Italy, and started a family. In 1989 the Funicellos and their children returned to the US.
She worked full-time. He made a name as a chef at memorable area restaurants, including Sole e Luna, Pinocchio, Arthur Avenue, Sunset Grille and Apulia.
In December 2002 the couple took a leap of faith, opening their own place, in a former video rental shop. Tutti Invitati soon became simply Tutti’s.
It was a great addition to Saugatuck — an homage to the neighborhood’s Italian heritage.
It still is.
The formula has not changed much. Diners — regulars and newcomers alike — are welcomed into the Funicellos’ home away from home. The space is just the right size. The décor is simple, yet warm.
And the food is delizioso.
The secret to Tutti’s success?
“We’re a family. And we treat customers like family,” Maria explains.
The other day, a customer celebrated his 90th birthday. The owners presented a complimentary bottle of wine,
They thank firefighters from the nearby station by feeding them regularly. When a homeless man walks in, they feed him too.
Customers return the love.
When COVID struck, Tutti’s did not miss a beat. Their already steady takeout business boomed.
“We were so busy,” Maria recalls. “People bought gift certificates they still haven’t redeemed. They handed us cash, and said, ‘Use it for whatever you need.’ They really weren’t our customers. They were like family.”
That’s why the recent rumors of Tutti’s’ demise hurt so much.
“They’re nice people. We’re working with them,” Maria says of the Hamlet developers.
“The Gault project (the previous Saugatuck redevelopment) looks great. I’m sure this one will be beautiful too.
“Whatever happens, happens. But it’s a long way away.”
Nothing is changing at Tutti’s. Certainly not the menu.
The pastas, other entrees, soups, salads, desserts and specials — like the ristorante itself, they’re not going anywhere.
“We’re settled. We know what we’re doing,” Maria says.
Tuesday was typical. At 3 p.m. — the slow, catch-your-breath time between lunch and dinner — several diners lingered. A construction worker picked up a meal to go. The phone chirped constantly, with takeout orders.
Through it al, Pasquale was in the back, cooking. Maria was out front — her usual warm, welcoming self.
Everyone was happy. Tutti’s was open for business.
And — as it celebrates its 20th anniversary — it still will be, for years to come.
Greatest Christmas news!!!
We love Tutti’s and especially Maria and Pasquale!!!
Great food, wonderful people! So glad they are not closing.
Tutti’s is the very best Italian restaurant in Fairfield County. We’ve moved from Westport out of state and miss it and Maria very much. It was our “go to”….for birthdays including my dad’s 95th and 96th…always welcome with open arms by the owners and the patrons…as well as many other celebrations. Bravo that it’s here to stay!! ❤️
Bravo Pasquale and Maria! I hope you’re there for a long time to come. One of the best Italian restaurants in Fairfield county.
Maria & Pasqual are more than Restaurateurs!!! When walking into Tutti’s, we are always greeted with welcoming smiles, not only by them, but also their staff. Their service, and food are consistent with the super personalities!!! and nothing is ever too much for the asking, even to the extent of speaking Italian when absolutely needed…ie; Rome Airport!!!
Thank you Maria and Pasqual for your continued service not only for us but the entire Westport Community!!! Love you guys!!! and Love your Tuttis!!!
Rhona & Mike
Everyone who walks thru the front door is family,
the best restaurant in Westport and maybe Connecticut!!
We adore Tutti’s. The most delicious Italian food ever!!! Cooked with love!!! Yay for staying!!!
We were regulars at DeRosa’s for many years and when they closed, we were depressed. We only needed to look down the street to find Tutti’s which proved to be even better. We agree with all of the above comments–great food with even better people. No question, they’re the best restaurant in Fairfield County.
Tutti’s is wonderful…the food and the people. It’s always like a family party!
So happy to hear you will be staying!
Thank You for all you & your family do to make Tuttis Special ❤️