By Deb Everts

Nick Pitillo, owner of Italian restaurant Villaggio, recently announced more than 12,000 meals have been purchased for local food pantries, charities, healthcare workers and other causes since his new website, stockthefreezer.com, went live March 20.

Pitillo took on “social distancing” less than three weeks ago with the launching of his new frozen meal order and delivery service adding a dynamic community resource. The local restaurateur, who also owns the popular Osteria 166 in Buffalo, has created a solution that will allow families to plan and have meals on-hand during the ongoing pandemic.

In addition to purchasing meals for themselves and their families, orders placed through stockthefreezer.com can be donated to local food pantries and organizations. In the past several days, Pitillo and his team have delivered more than 8,700 meals to organizations throughout Erie and Cattaraugus counties.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka pushed the effort beyond the 12,000 donated meals milestone with a big helping hand to local restaurant workers impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 response. Tito’s is donating $10,000 to the Family Meal Hospitality Trust, a non-profit organization created to support the Buffalo restaurant community.

Among the many organizations that have received meals for the people and communities they serve are Back to Basics Outreach Ministries, Cattaraugus Community Action, the P.U.N.T. Foundation, the Response to Love Center and St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy. 

Meanwhile, healthcare workers at Buffalo General Hospital, the Buffalo VA hospital, Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and St. Joseph’s Hospital have also received donated meals.

“I never could have imagined this sort of response,” Pitillo said. “We opened the kitchen and the community has opened their hearts.”

Stockthefreezer.com offers a number of popular Italian dishes and family favorites from the Villaggio and Osteria 166 menus including lasagnas, pasta, meatballs, sauce, soup, appetizers and even dessert and wine. The meals are available in a variety of portion sizes.

For more information, visit stockthefreezer.com or contact Villaggio at info@villaggioevl.com or Osteria 166 at info@OsteriaBuffalo.com.