Two decades of Utopia

Utopia Deli celebrates great eats, good friends and more to come

Make text smaller Make text larger


  • Flashback to Feb. 11, 1997. That was when Susan Costanza, left, and Donald Dickerson, right, opened their deli and cafe, Utopia, on Warwick Turnpike in Hewitt.

  • Utopia Deli and Cafe is celebrating 20 years! Pictured here, from left, are Manager Ruth Russo, co-owner Susan Costanza, MindyWasyluk and co-owner Donald Dickerson.

"I've been very fortunate, as far as I'm concerned. I've had some of the best people working for me."
Sue Costanza, co-owner of Utopia Deli and Cafe, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary on Feb. 11, 2017


Sue Costanza and her brothers all learned to cook from their mom, Mary Rennell, and turned that love of cooking for others into businesses.

Costanza and her husband, Donald Dickert, own Utopia Deli and Cafe and the adjacent Suzy's Tomato Pizzeria in Hewitt. This Feb. 11 marks their 20th anniversary in business here.

Cooking is a family affairUtopia Deli offers everything you could wish for in a deli and more: great hot meals and sandwiches, homemade soups and salads and fresh baked muffins, brownies and cookies in a clean, friendly atmosphere.

When Costanza was younger, her family owned the Marketplace Deli. Her brother Phil still operates the Marketplace in Highland Lakes, while her brother Mark, who owned The Huntsman, retired. Costanza says she learned from them, as well.

Costanza said she's proud to be in business for 20 years. Owning your own business can be difficult and time-consuming.

Except for one other business, she said "All the surrounding places have changed hands a number of times."

It can be a lot of work finding and keeping good help. "That's what it takes," she said.

Good peopleCostanza has valued full-time employees who have been with her for years and who have become friends: manager Ruth Russo and Mindy Wasyluk. In addition, the business hires part-time help as needed.

"The job's not easy; they have a lot of stuff to learn, but when they (leave) they're very capable."

Costanza had high praise for the young people who have worked for her.

"I've had the best kids because the majority of them are very responsible," she said. "They show up when they're supposed to and find coverage when they can't come in. They're experienced dealing with people, handling situations and preparing food."

Many of them are college bound, she added. Some get married and Costanza and Dickert have gone to their weddings. “They became our kids."

She values her people, for sure.

"I've been very fortunate, as far as I'm concerned. I've had some of the best people working for me," she said.

A work of loveCostanza and Dickert live in Hewitt. Costanza was born in Hoboken and moved here when she was four. Dickert has lived here his entire life.

Dickert was into refurbishing homes when he and Sue met. The couple knew they wanted to bring something new to the area and decided to open a deli. A friend, Glen Slater, was refurbishing the building they're in now and the couple decided to rent and refinish the space for the deli. Dickert did everything himself, Costanza said: he made the kitchen, counters, and installed the floors.

"He didn't come from that but he is able to figure things out and not afraid to try and succeed at it," she said.

It took them three years to complete; both were busy with other things, but then they opened the Utopia Deli.

How did they hit on the name "Utopia?" Costanza said it was because of the beauty of the area.

High praiseNot only can you eat in or take out food, but the Utopia caters as well. Some customer favorites include their heroes, the cold Sloppy Joe, the Utopia salad and a whole array of wraps. Customers come for the atmosphere as well as the food. "We have seating outside too," Costanza said, "with a nice pond."

Customers have high praise for Utopia Deli and the staff.

“The early morning opening crew are always bright eyed and ready to break some eggs,” posted customer Harry Clark on facebook. “Pouring that hot coffee with a smile and a brisk 'have a great day'!! Great place!”

“To all of our customers, thank you for your loyalty for the past 20 years and for being part of our family,” said Costanza.

Check them out on facebook, where you can see the daily specials, too.

Utopia Deli
355 Warwick Turnpike
Open every day, 5 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Make text smaller Make text larger


Pool Rules


Joseph Francis Lima
Joseph Francis Lima of West Milford died on Wednesday, Nov. 15. He was 34.
Born in Suffern, N.Y., he was the son of Frances (Hopkins) Lima and Joseph Lima.
A lifelong...

Read more »

Jeanne E. Hulst
Jeanne E. (Rund) Hulst, of West Milford, died on Wednesday, Nov. 15. She was 92.
She was predeceased by her husband, Douglas H. Hulst.
Born in Englewood, Hulst was the...

Read more »

Veterans Day marked with ceremonies, tributes
Organizations, individuals and businesses marked Veterans’ Day in West Milford Saturday with ceremonies,...
Read more »

Public to weigh in on former theme park's future
A new name, better access and more activities appear to be in the future for the former Jungle...

Read more »



Sign up to get our newsletter emailed to you every week!

  • Enter your email address in the box below.
  • Select the newsletters you would like to subscribe to.
  • Click the 'SUBSCRIBE' button.

* indicates required
Community Newspapers


Gerald A. Shirhall
  • Nov 13, 2017


West Milford, NJ