Portofino’s Restaurant in New Fairfield ‘Serves Up’ the True Meaning of Christmas
Every Christmas Day since 1995, there's been a special New Fairfield restaurant that offers a free meal to anyone in the community.
My family's been ordering pizza and take-out dinners from Portofino's Restaurant ever since it opened 30 years ago. I stopped by today to make a dinner reservation for six, and struck up a conversation with Portofino's owner, Vezir "Poppy" Hoda. On Christmas Day he and his staff, along with a contingent of dedicated volunteers, welcome anyone from the New Fairfield community who may not have anywhere else to go, or who may be a bit down on their luck to join them at the restaurant for a delicious Christmas dinner on-the-house.
Poppy told me that his father, David, who has since passed away, was a co-owner of Portofino's. It was on Christmas day in 1995 when he stopped by the restaurant to pick up some food when he heard a knock on the door. It turned out to be a woman who lived in the community and she had just recently lost her husband. She had her two small children with her and was wondering if the restaurant might be open. David invited them in and cooked up a delicious Christmas dinner for the three of them. Before David passed away, he asked his family to continue the Christmas tradition he had started.
Chef Tony Elmazi is proud to volunteer in the kitchen every year and told us, "You got to give before you receive, especially on this holy day." One of New Fairfield's town officials said that many people stop by for a sense of community because they simply have no other place to go. Patrons of the restaurant and members of the community donate much of the food as well as some gifts for the folks who stop by.
Portofino's is located at 88 State Rt. 37 in New Fairfield. Before I left the restaurant today, Poppy looked at me and said, "It's a good day to be a good human being."