Mike grew up at the family table of Deleno Brother’s, his Uncle Tony’s and Uncle Joe’s restaurant in Wappingers Falls, NY, which opened in 1959. A few miles down the road in the hamlet of Chelsea, Vicki was raised on Grandma Berinato’s homemade Italian cooking and their Sunday family dinner tradition. She always called her Grandpa Berinato by his nickname “Little Pop”.
Mike and Vicki met and fell in love as teenagers while camping in Hopewell Junction, NY, returning there in 1991 to get married. Over the next 2 decades, Mike served in the Army reserves for eleven years and built a successful snow removal business which he eventually sold to a buyer in Naperville. Mike and Vicki made the decision to relocate to Naperville, along with their three children, to continue working for the buyer as part of the business deal. The business unexpectedly collapsed under the new ownership leaving Mike without a job and their family broke. For the next five years the family’s faith was tested and strengthened as Mike moved from job-to-job looking for the right fit while Vicki took a part-time job driving a school bus while raising three kids in an attempt to make ends meet.
In 2014, after getting laid off from his most recent job, Mike’s mom suggested he and Vicki bring the family down to Melbourne Beach, FL for spring break. Mike thought the time away might help him figure out what the man upstairs had in store for him. While in Florida, the family was eating at an authentic New York-style pizzeria which brought back nostalgic memories of Deleno Brother’s restaurant, Grandma Berinato’s Sunday dinners, and New York Pizza. Mike and Vicki joked around saying they should bring an authentic New York-style pizzeria restaurant to Naperville. It was a sign and Mike and Vicki couldn’t stop thinking about the idea. Later that night, after a quick online search, Mike discovered a former neighborhood strip mall pizzeria hidden in the Southeast corner of Naperville which had been closed for a couple of years, but 90% of the equipment was still there and the landlord was motivated.
On June 16, 2014, together with their children Austin, Preston, and Autumn plus the help of family recipes from their nephew Steven and Vicki’s brother Louis who owns the other Little Pop’s Pizza in Maybrook, NY, Mike and Vicki risked what little they had left with no experience running a restaurant to open Little Pops Pizzeria in Naperville. They were determined to share their family’s legacy and memories delivering a slice of authentic mom and pop New York pizzeria restaurant culture to the Midwest. East Coast transplants started showing up, word spread, and the rest is Little Pops history.
Mike and Vicki welcome you to the Little Pops Neighborhood and our family table.