Lorenzo Colella has known Paul Mauk since he was a kid growing up on Forest Street.
The eatery his parents had opened in 1967, Joe’s Pizza, sat for most of its life just two doors down from Mauk’s Tequila Mockingbird, and Colella would come to see the family friend as a mentor. Colella’s mother Annunziata passed away two years ago, his father Giuseppe in May. Soon after, he lost some help at the pizzeria, now on Locust Avenue, and consulted Mauk, who had sold Tequila last summer after a successful 25-year run. Mauk volunteered to help out, and in just a few months, he’s made an indelible mark at Joe’s, primarily through encouraging Colella to trust his own talents as a chef and in tweaking a pizza recipe that’s been feeding New Canaanites for decades. “One of the main things he does is motivating me mentally, and making me realize I have a lot of capability and what I do is unique,” Colella said.