From police officer to restaurant owner, life is still fun for DellaMonica

Milford’s Joe DellaMonica was a police officer for 20 years before retiring in 2011. Today he and his wife own and operate a local eatery on New Haven Avenue, cooking up sausages, burgers, sandwiches and more. It’s a big change, DellaMonica admits, but he said work is still fun.

The local man’s work life had always been on the thrilling side, and that spilled over into his personal life last year when, as a retired officer, he made headlines for helping to save a motorist’s life.

He was driving his car last year in New Jersey with his wife and son. His son saw a reckless driver who eventually crashed into a bridge and the car caught fire. DellaMonica ran out of his car, pulled the driver out of the vehicle and saved his life.

“If I didn't get him out, he would have bled or burned to death,” DellaMonica said. “After I pulled him out of the car and ran [with him], the car exploded in about 30 seconds. He broke his collar bone, femur, left leg and right arm. He had a skull fracture and a big gash in his right arm. Eventually, he went to rehab and had to learn how to re-walk.”

DellaMonica's skills and experience as a police officer definitely came in handy during this frightening time. Recently, the retired officer, along with others who helped the victim, received an award from the New Jersey state police and county sheriff department.

Linda DellaMonica recalled the day of the accident.

“I was nervous, and I could see flames coming from the car,” she said. “My son was scared for his father. My husband went running to help, and it did not surprise me that he did it.”

Six months after the car crash, DellaMonica met the man he had saved.

“It was very emotional. He was at a loss for words, and his kids thanked me for giving [them] their dad back,” said DellaMonica.

After many years of being a police officer and living the kind of life that goes with that, DellaMonica decided it was time to make a career change, so he and his wife opened a restaurant May 24 in Milford, called The Missing Link Grill.

“My wife and I are great cooks,” DellaMonica said. “I love meeting new people, and the best feeling is when you see customers coming back and hearing them say how much they enjoyed the food.”

The Missing Link Grill at 664 New Haven Avenue is a restaurant primarily for take-out, but it also has one small table inside, and a few picnic tables outside. The interior is country-themed, and their most popular item on the menu is their sausages. They also make egg sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches, BLTs and more.

Linda DellaMonica enjoys making scones; a very popular one of hers is strawberry with white chocolate. Also, the Missing Link Grill will be selling donuts and bagels soon.

There is a great amount of work involved in this restaurant, but DellaMonica loves it, which is why he is happy about his career change.

“I see [customers] now that I have not seen since high school, and I enjoy making the food; everything is from scratch.”

Being a police officer “is a different kind of fun,” he said.

“When I was young, the dangerous part was the fun part, but rarely did you get thanks,” DellaMonica said. “It's 95% work and 5% acknowledgment, but in the restaurant it's 50/50.”