DUBLIN, Ohio — Robert DelliQuadri, an Ohio State University graduate, and his brother Vinny may have left their native Youngstown in the early 2000s, but their heart has always been with the deep-rooted Italian traditions of the Mahoning Valley.
“Kinda started appealing to the Youngstown customers, carrying DiRusso sausage, making our own meatballs, bringing a taste of home down to central Ohio,” said Robert DelliQuadri.
The two started a food truck, called Meatball Mafia six years ago, offering Italian staples inspired by family recipes.
It led to a restaurant inside Hilliard's Center Street Market four years later.
“So the meatballs and the sauce are all based on my grandmother's recipe," said Robert DelliQuadri. "She never wrote it down, because that's what the old Italians didn't do. We really like to taste the tomato. We really want the sauce to get that meatball flavor."
Their success with Meatball Mafia has led to a new venture in nearby Dublin, a bar and restaurant that pays tribute to the folklore of Jimmy Hoffa called Missing Jimmys.
“It fit the Youngstown thing. Every town in Youngstown, every street would have a family-owned bar," said Robert DelliQuadri. "At least a third of our customers are either from the area or have told people about it. I feel like their passion for Youngstown, and their memories have really helped us get people to try and get into the brand."
The DelliQuadri brothers said they're lucky to have this partnership and find success during these tough times for small businesses.
“I think just cause there's two of us, so one can cover one thing, and the other can do the other," said Vinny DelliQuadri. "Whatever needs done for this, for that. I'll always try to make more time if I can for him."
And although Columbus remains home for the brothers and new family members, the Mahoning Valley will always hold a special place in their hearts.
“We miss that like family, friends, the food," said Robert DelliQuadri. "You know it's just, Youngstown has this nostalgic hold on all of us that have moved."
Meatball Mafia is located at 5354 Center St. in Hilliard.
Missing Jimmy's is located at 55 South High St. in Dublin and is expected to open later this month.