Pequannock June 2024

Page 1




Food and Family Anthony and Alfonso Ciampa

& Pompton Plains

June 2024

• Over 22 years of experience

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• Loyalty and Respect

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2 | PEQUANNOCK Contents JUNE 2024 18 6 10 26 30 ON THE COVER Brothers Anthony (left) and Alfonso Ciampa have served gourmet foods together for decades. PHOTOGRAPH BY ANTONIETTA HENRY FEATURES 10 Blooming Business Plainview Growers has perfected the art of growing—and selling— premium orchids bursting with color. 14 Meet Your Magazine’s Team The publisher, writers and photographers of Pequannock & Pompton Plains share why they love telling your stories. 18 Family and Fine Food Alfonso and Anthony Ciampa share a heritage of producing gourmet meats and Italian specialties. IN EVERY ISSUE 4 Publisher’s Note SWEET SUMMERTIME 6 Around Town BITE-SIZED UPDATES 26 Home Front WHY GRASSCYCLING IS GREAT 30 Local Tastes ‘NOT JUST PIZZA’ AT V&J 32 Photo Op ROYAL PAGEANTRY
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Sweet Summertime

Who doesn’t love the sunshine, warm weather and sweet summertime? June marks the beginning of our second year in publication. I am so proud of all we have accomplished and look forward to all that follows this year!

Ever bought an orchid? A picture is certainly worth a thousand words, and we have several, beautifully captured by Megan Van Peenen. Learn more about local farmer Arie Van Vugt, who grows them locally at Plainview Growers. Chances are, if

you have one, it came from one of his farms.

Our second story is all about us! Meet the team behind the scenes. Our talented group of writers and photographers happily capture all of the stories and pictures for each edition of our magazine. Learn what this magazine and community means to each of us. I feel blessed to have found each and every one of them and equally appreciate you sharing your stories with us.

Our cover features the Ciampa brothers, Anthony and Alfonso, of A&A Fine Foods. I love their story about how the family got started in the business. Be sure to stop in to check out all of their homemade Italian goodies and butcher shop—everything you need for Father’s Day and all of your summer picnic/grilling needs.

Looking for some tips to save time maintaining your lawn this summer? You will want to read master gardener Robin Jones’ article about grasscycling and how it can benefit everyone.

Love pizza? Our Local Tastes story features V&J Pizza, one of my favorites, known for their amazing square pie and more. V&J has been in business for over 55 years and is conveniently located right in the Stop & Shop Plaza.

Wishing you a fun and safe summer! Be sure to share your ideas, pics and stories Our magazine is for and about you!

Pequannock & Pompton Plains MAGAZINE

Editor & Publisher

Donna Fillweber

Art Director

Sue Park

Copy Editor

Nancy Fass


Robin A. Jones

Dana Regan

Mary Shumeyko

Megan Van Peenen


Antonietta Henry

Dan Piccoli



Carroll V. Dowden

President and CEO

Mark Dowden

VP, Group Publisher, Regional

Thomas Flannery

VP, Content Strategy

Maria Regan

Creative Director

Kijoo Kim

Advertising Services Director

Jacquelynn Fischer

Operations Director

Catherine Rosario

Production Designer

Chris Ferrante

Print Production Manager

Fern Meshulam

Advertising Production Associate

Griff Dowden

Pequannock & Pompton Plains Magazine is published by Wainscot Media. Serving residents of Pequannock Township, the magazine is distributed monthly via U.S. mail. Articles and advertisements contained herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publishers. Copyright 2024 by Wainscot Media LLC. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written consent.


WHAT’S NEW Around Town


Pequannock Township’s much-anticipated sidewalk sales event will be held on June 15.


Check out the indoor/outdoor Antique, Vintage and Collectible Mart held at Paul Revere Hall on the second Friday of each month and offering a unique variety of dealers. Want to be a vendor? Call Joe at 973-839-8031.

Remaining 2024 show dates for the mart are June 14, July 12, August 9, September 13, October 11, November 8 and December 13. | 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. American Legion Post 242 700 Newark-Pompton Turnpike, Pompton Plains


The Friends of the Pequannock Township Public Library will be hosting a free outdoor concert with The Kootz band on Friday, June 14, at 7 p.m. behind the Pequannock Township Public Library, at 477 Newark-Pompton Turnpike.

Music lovers are welcome to bring their lawn chairs and dancing feet to enjoy the music of this five-piece ensemble performing a musical menu of classic ’60s through ’90s pop, rock, R&B and blues music.


Save the date for the Pequannock Township Fireworks Show, Friday, June 28, at Pequannock Township High School. Festivities begin at 7 p.m. The fireworks show is at dark.

You can purchase food and treats from on-site vendors including:

• The Empanada Times • Jersey Jack’s Kettle Corn

• Harper’s Lemonade • Kona Ice • Rain date: June 29

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Blooming Business

Plainview Growers has perfected the art of growing—and selling— premium orchids bursting with color.

If a stunning orchid has caught your eye at a local retailer or flower shop, more than likely it was grown right here in Pompton Plains.

Plainview Pure orchids are cultivated locally at Plainview Growers, located on Farm Road.

In 1986, Plainview Growers was founded by Arie Van Vugt. As the business grew, his four sons joined the family business and forged a reputation for growing premium plant products of the highest quality.

In 2007, Van Vugt and his family decided to begin growing orchids.

“The first year, we grew 3,000 orchids,” Van Vugt says. “As of today, we are growing 2.8 million annually.”

JUNE 2024 | 11

A Careful Process

An orchid takes 24 months to grow into full bloom. Plainview Pure has growers in Taiwan that start the growing process. Orchids are grown for 18 months in Taiwan’s high-temperature climate.

The orchids are then shipped to Plainview Greenhouses in Pompton Plains for the next stage of growing. For another six months, they continue to grow, but in a cool environment that initiates the flowering of the orchid.

In order for an orchid to establish itself and ultimately bloom, temperatures, sunlight and care must be precise for the entire 24 months of growing.

Pure Orchids come in two different varieties: natural and ColorFuze. Natural orchids come in shades ranging from white to pink, purple to soft orange. Some even have natural intricate designs within the bloom.

Patented Colors

ColorFuze orchids are a specialty of Plainview Pure. Created with a patented dye that is injected into the plant, these orchids make a bold statement and have an intense color.

Colors range from stunning

bright blues, bold pinks and apricots to eye-catching lime green and yellow. Pure natural orchids come in 5-inch, 4-inch mini and 3-inch micro-mini sizes, while Pure ColorFuze orchids come in a 5-inch size.

In 2017, Plainview Pure opened a second location, which is now its headquarters, located in Allamuchy. This state-of-the-art growing facility has increased Plainview’s growing capacity in order to meet the needs of

its nationwide reach.

Plainview Pure products have also expanded to include Plainview Pure succulents. Both Plainview Pure orchids and succulents are available nationwide and can be purchased locally at Costco, Wegmans, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods and Kings, to name a few. Florists and garden centers also carry Plainview Pure orchids and succulents, as do 1-800-Flowers and many other online floral retailers.

Megan Van Peenen is a graduate of Montclair State University with a B.A. in English. She resides in Pequannock with her husband and two kids, Grace and Michael. Megan enjoys reading, writing for Pequannock & Pompton Plains magazine and traveling with her family to watch her husband compete in Ironman triathlons worldwide.

JUNE 2024 | 13

Meet Your Magazine’s Team

The publisher, writers and photographers of Pequannock & Pompton Plains share why they love telling your stories.

Donna Fillweber

I am humbled to be the editor and publisher of Pequannock & Pompton Plains magazine. It truly takes a village, and I am blessed to work with a talented team at Wainscot Media—and to celebrate one year of publication.

I couldn’t be prouder to shine a bright light on the residents of our community by sharing your stories and working together with our talented local writers, photographers and community who have made this magazine a success. I’m so fortunate to have found this team! Read on to learn more about us and why we love what we do!

I grew up in Wayne and have lived in Pompton Plains for the past 30 years. My greatest gifts call me Mother—my daughter, Brianna (30), won the Miss Fabulous modeling contest with Mac Duggal and has since been its operations manager in the Chicago area. My son, Ryan (29), is a financial analyst for Behaviorally and lives locally.

In addition to editing, publishing and selling for the magazine, I am a Realtor with Realty Executives and Exceptional Realtors, and director with Color Street. If you know me, no matter what I do, it’s with a passion for helping others. My hobbies and interests include hiking, gardening, pickleball, home decor and cooking. I love my perennial flowers and digging in the dirt at this time of year, and I am especially excited to be part of our community garden, growing some vegetables for the first time.


Danielle Clements

My family and I have been Pequannock residents for a few years and immediately fell in love with the town—the beauty of the landscape, the quiet neighborhoods and the backdrop of the mountains. I feel privileged to write for this magazine and tell the stories of the people who make it such a special place.

Greg Dabice

I am a proud father of five beautiful children, all born and raised here in Pequannock. Through them, I have been fortunate to become deeply involved in our magnificent community. This magazine is incredibly meaningful to me because it beautifully captures the essence of our town, which I consider a treasure.

Donna Del Moro

Having lived in Pequannock for the past 30-plus years, I enjoy reading local stories about area personalities and their accomplishments. With the demise of many local newspapers throughout the years, Pequannock & Pompton Plains magazine has offered a forum for the township’s residents where news and features can be shared and enjoyed.

JUNE 2024 | 15

Antonietta Henry

I’m a resident, wife, mother of four and owner of Antonietta Henry Photography in Pompton Plains. Helping to connect readers to stories in the magazine has been a rewarding experience for me. The subjects captured feel like friends when assignments are complete—a wonderful journey so far!

Dan Piccoli

I have been retired for one year and enjoy spending more time with my family, including our four grandchildren. I am also the owner of 4 Shore Photography LLC, specializing in family portraits, professional headshots and real estate photography. As a resident of Pompton Plains, being a regular contributor to the magazine has introduced me to many amazing people that I would likely never have met otherwise. As I shop and dine around town, I run into these folks and have an immediate connection with them. That’s priceless.

Ed Leonard

Pequannock Township has been my home my entire life. It evokes a family feeling that has evolved through my contact with friends and neighbors throughout the township. I have a love of photography that lets me capture and share simple and special memories with a multitude of students, organizations and pretty much any one I can. Life should be all about friendships, respect and caring for each other. Keep smiling!

Dana Regan

I work with intensity at many things, but writing for this magazine is one of the most rewarding! This community has so much to offer and so many very interesting people. Getting to engage with our residents and write their stories is a unique opportunity that I will forever be grateful for.


Mary Shumeyko

I’m a retired Pequannock teacher and coach, and the proud mother of three and grandmother of eight. I also serve as an elder at Pequannock Reformed Church and work with Friends of the Library. Writing for Pequannock & Pompton Plains magazine has been a delight, providing opportunities for closer contacts with local interests.

Megan Van Peenen

Family is what matters most to me, and Pequannock is where my roots have been planted. Being a part of Pequannock & Pompton Plains magazine allows me to write about what I feel makes our community so special. I am honored to have been given the opportunity to write about the amazing people and businesses in Pequannock Township. Plus, there is nothing like grabbing a cup of coffee and sitting down to read our latest edition!

Angela Teta Kohle

I retired after 35 years of teaching and live in Pequannock with my husband, Dave. I’m also a proofreader for an author and work for the family business. I really love writing for Pequannock & Pompton Plains magazine because it highlights all the wonderful things that the community has to offer.

Debbie Walsh

As Oprah has said, “Everybody has a story,” and I relish bringing some of those stories to local readers. Without exception, I have enjoyed my conversations with all the folks I have written about, and I thank them for their graciousness. As a news writer for local publications for 30 years, I am aware of the shrinking local coverage opportunities, and I’m so glad that Pequannock & Pompton Plains magazine values telling your stories!

JUNE 2024 | 17
Alfonso (left) and Anthony Ciampa have worked together in their shop since 1997, drawing on traditional Italian recipes and preparation methods handed down from their family.

Family and Fine Food

Brothers Alfonso and Anthony Ciampa share a heritage of producing gourmet meats and Italian specialties.

This story begins in Avellino, a province of Southern Italy located in a mountainous area just east of Naples. Mario Ciampa, one of 13 children, and his wife, Amalia, had their first child, Pasquale, in Avellino.

From there, the family moved to England for eight years. Finally, in February 1960, when Amalia was pregnant with their second child, the family came to America.

With the sponsorship of a family member,

Mario, Amalia, and Pasquale moved to Mulberry Street in New York City’s Little Italy. From there, they put down roots in Brooklyn. Afterward, two more sons were born to the Ciampas: Alfonso first, then, nine years later, Anthony.

From Italy to America, these two youngest brothers were destined to be where they are today as owners of A&A Fine Foods in Lincoln Park. The rest, as they say, is history.

JUNE 2024 | 19

Bonded Brothers

At 13 years old, with the help of his mother, Alfonso got a job in Sheepshead Bay. He delivered meat on his bike from Pulio Brothers Meat Market. There, he got a taste of what it might be like to work in a storefront business that revolved around exceptional food.

Hence, years later, Alfonso began working full-time at A&S Pork Store, his cousin’s shop on Chamberlain Avenue in Paterson, learning the business.

Young Anthony knew he wanted to learn the food trade from his older brother. College was not on the horizon, so Anthony decided to jump on board.

In 1992, Anthony opened A&A in Lincoln Park on his own. Then, in 1997, Alfonso left Paterson and joined his younger brother. They have worked together at their current location ever since, making and baking gourmet, authentic food from hand-me-down recipes plucked directly from their Italian heritage.

Both Ciampa brothers lived in Wayne, but in 2017, Alfonso and his family moved to Pequannock. Alfonso came to love Pequannock, finding that neighbors were friendly and welcoming when they first moved here.

He says Pequannock reminds him of growing up in Brooklyn because of its sincere neighborhood feel. “Everyone knows everyone’s name and is willing to help one another,” Alfonso says.

For almost 30 years, Alfonso and Anthony have worked together daily,

sharing their passion for food and service directly with customers.

Alfonso thrives in the back of the store, cutting meat and proudly perfecting the display case. Anthony works the counter, greeting customers and taking orders. Alfonso describes their sibling relationship as a “marriage” in the sense that they work off each other’s strengths and compensate for individual weaknesses.

Full Services

Every morning at A&A Fine Foods, located at 191 Main St. in Lincoln Park, Anthony and Alfonso open the store, enjoy a cup of coffee together and shoot the breeze as they begin to prepare for the day ahead.

All the foods A&A sells are fresh and made in-house, with specialties such as lasagna, seafood salad, eggplant rollatini and meatballs prepared each day. Sausage is also made in the store, along with mozzarella, which Alfonso makes multiple times a day.

Customers visit all morning, but things ramp up around 11 a.m. The store is bustling until around 2:30 p.m., and then a welcomed lull gives the brothers time to catch up before the dinner rush.

Loyal regulars shop here often, and, as tried and true store owners, Anthony and Alfonso know their names and common requests. Conveniently, when A&A fans are too busy to get to the store, this old-world Italian deli and bakery offers home delivery. With Father’s Day right around the corner, the Ciampa brothers have the finest

food ready for grilling. Rib eye steaks, filet mignon, dry-aged steaks, prime rib and fresh seafood create exquisite Father’s Day meals. Another in-house favorite for grilling is the brothers’ homemade chicken patties made with roasted peppers and fresh spinach.

Catering is another major service that A&A provides. A full catering menu is available on A&A’s website so that party planners can view all of the mouthwatering options.

The Ciampa brothers take time with their customers in the planning stage of a party, then hand off the menu to their head chef, Ralf Offand, who has been with the store for 26 years. Alfonso and Anthony also provide bartending and waitstaff services, along with the catering of their delectable food.

Rich family and food-based traditions have taught the Ciampa brothers everything they know about grit and grub. More importantly, the owners of A&A want patrons to know that putting out a great product and pleasing their customers are what bring them the most joy.

Pequannock is proud of its own, Alfonso Ciampa, and how loyal he and his brother are to the surrounding community. There is no substitute for good food bringing people together, and A&A helps keep that culture alive.

Dana Regan is happily married with four children and a beautiful new daughter-in-law. Her family, friends, career as an educator and adorable dog, Jax, keep her busy and smiling.
JUNE 2024 | 21
Anthony (above left) can often be found greeting customers and taking orders at the front of A&A Fine Foods, their gourmet market in Lincoln Park, where Pequannock resident Alfonso (above right) can often be found at the back carefully preparing meats for display in the shop’s ample case.
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What’s Great About Grasscycling

Letting grass clippings lie in place saves money, reduces waste and helps the environment.

Grasscycling is the mulching of grass clippings back into your lawn. This shortens the chore of mowing—there are approximately 30 weekly mowings in a season—by not having to empty grass catchers.

Other grasscycling benefits include eliminating bags and extra barrels, reducing air and noise pollution and supplying free lawn fertilizer. A 2023 report from the Environmental Protection Agency recognizes off-road combustion sources including mowers as significant contributors to ground-level ozone and air pollution in general.

Grass blades are composed primarily of water and break down quickly. Returning grass clippings to your lawn recycles macro- and micronutrients back to the soil and your lawn.

Allowing clipped grass to nurture your lawn also reduces the amount of vegetative waste that Pequannock Township collects at curbsides and transports to a local wood shredding facility.

Township records for 2022 show that 3,107 cubic yards of vegetative waste were hauled away from April to December. From my casual observation of curbside containers, lawn clippings appear to make up a significant percentage of collections. By letting clippings lie, you reduce the amount of air pollution not only from fewer mowings but also in transportation and processing.

Here are ways to incorporate the benefits of grasscycling into a broader plan for healthier lawn care.


Contrary to widespread belief, returning clippings to the lawn does not necessarily contribute to significant thatch accumulation. Thatch comprises a tightly intermingled layer of partially decomposed grass stems and roots settling at ground level. Over time, this can accumulate, smothering and killing grass in affected areas. Dethatching should be done when thatch accumulates to ½ inch to 1 inch and is best done in the fall to lessen new root and rhizome damage.


Lawns should be mowed at 2½ inches to 3½ inches, ideally cutting no more than a third of the grass blade. Low mowing is a major cause of lawn deterioration. Removing larger amounts of the blade surface may result in physiological shock to the plant, cause excessive graying or browning of leaf tips and greatly curtail photosynthesis.

In hot, dry weather, raise the mower blade another ½ inch to 1 inch to increase grass height, which helps shade and cool grass roots. This improves moisture retention so less watering is required and reduces potential stress for your lawn. Avoid mowing the lawn when it’s wet, which can also cause stress, making grass more susceptible to disease.


This reduces ozone formation as emissions interact with less sunshine.


Mower blades should be sharpened regularly—at least annually.


A healthy lawn needs aeration, seeding and watering when needed along with proper and responsible fertilization and weed control. Soil should have a pH of 6 to 6.8. You can obtain soil sampling kits cheaply through a number of sources, including the Morris County Rutgers Extension located at 550 W. Hanover Ave., Morristown, or the Passaic County Rutgers Extension located at 1310 Route 23, Wayne (behind Gary’s Wine & Marketplace). To learn more, visit

Many more residents allow grass clippings to be beneficially left in place than in the past. It appears that wellmaintained lawns have not suffered from retaining their clippings.

Following their example reduces your workload, saves money in gas and disposal, reduces air and noise pollution, and benefits your lawn. Talk to your neighbors. Periodically check for thatch buildup and decide for yourself if allowing grass clippings to lie in place makes sense on all levels for you and your lawn.

Pompton Plains resident Robin A. Jones is a former member of the Pequannock Township Environmental Commission and an original and current member of the Pequannock Township Open Space Advisory Committee. He is a Rutgers Master Gardener, Morris County.
JUNE 2024 | 27
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Salvatore Esposito serving up a specialty pie.

Not Just Pizza’

A friendly atmosphere, extensive menu and secret sauce have pleased patrons at V&J Pizza for 55 years.

Touches of Italy abound at V&J Pizza.

The co-owners of this welcoming storefront pizzeria—Salvatore (Sal) Esposito with Daniel (Danny) and Domenico DiMaio— share a love of good food, their Italian heritage and the 55-year history of V&J.

Known for their Sicilian pies, the trio proudly describes other favorites: Sandwiches, calzones and pasta dishes are also on the menu. “We’re not just pizza,” says Esposito.

The friendly atmosphere is as appealing as their secret sauce. And the sauce actually is a secret. The only thing they would reveal about it is that the tomatoes are imported from Italy!

They’ve kept their selections consistent, using quality cheeses and adding new items as the pizza industry evolves. Thin crust, Grandma’s pies and buffalo chicken pizzas are examples of how they’ve adapted.

Soft drinks are available, and patrons are welcome to bring their own beverages. The large room seats over 75 guests, and dining al fresco out front is another option.

V&J’s take-out business is bustling. Often, especially on weekends or around holidays, the line for pickup orders stretches out the door.

Popular and Resilient

“We’ve served generations of families,” comments Danny. “We love watching kids grow up and come back with children of their own.”

Regular customers savor the familiarity; folks who have moved away or college kids on breaks will come back, enjoy a meal and order extra items to pack up and take home.

One wall is covered with photos of happy customers: Couples, families, teams and groups are pictured relishing the food.

There’s even a photograph of a “Marry Me” pizza—designed for a unique proposal!

Like much of Pequannock, V&J Pizza has survived three major floods. With resilience, the business has continued to serve the community with fundraisers along with delicious food. V&J recently participated in Pequannock’s Taste of the Town, offering glimpses of its savory specialties.

Order items to take out or stop by for a wonderful meal. Come in for a family dinner or bring a whole team to celebrate a game. Or treat dad to a special Father’s Day celebration. Become a regular and you’ll be delighted at V&J.

and spending time

Mary Shumeyko is a retired Pequannock teacher who helps at her church and the Pequannock Library. Traveling, running, reading with family fill her free time.
JUNE 2024 | 31
Above left: Domenico DiMaio with the all-important dough machine. Middle: Daniel DiMaio prepping dough for a pizza. Right: Co-owners Salvatore Esposito and the DiMaios.

Maureen Brain captured this swan outside the walls of The Legacy Castle, beautifully displaying the kind of magnificence the event venue is known for.

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