Before they start cooking each day, Rudy and Miriam Kiapeta pray, asking the Lord to bless their hands and the food they prepare.

"The biggest secret in our food is love," said Rudy Kiapeta, who with his wife, Miriam, owns and operates The Tuscan Pig.

What started as a catering company that also offered carry-out orders has now transformed into the full-service restaurant, Tuscan Pig Italian Kitchen. The Kiapetas continue to offer catering in addition to the restaurant, which offers dine-in and carryout options as well as delivery through Longview Delivery.

Born in Italy, Kiepeta's family emigrated to the U.S., landing in New Jersey when Kiapeta was a child. He arrived in Longview by virtue of a contract with Aramark to work at Good Shepherd Medical Center.

A friend from his Good Shepherd days, Bala Duszik, owner of B.L. Duszik Construction, knew of Kiapeta's dream to buy a building to house his restaurant.

"He took me to the bank to get a loan, he did all the renovations to the building," Kiapeta said. "I could not have done this without him."

Located on High Street, The Tuscan Pig takes up one portion of the building while Pink Polka Dot Bakery takes up the other. Though the two originally shared some space, they have each grown in the last year and developed their own clienteles. They now each have their own spaces and kitchens.

In the Kiapetas kitchen, everything is homemade and prepared to order.

"All of our sauces are handmade; everything is handmade," he said. "One of the things that distinguishes us is that everything is made in-house versus purchasing ready-to-serve sauces."

Kiapeta said foods made with their slow-cooked pork meat are very popular. The fan favorite item on their menu features it. The country lasagna is made with layers of shredded pork, ground meat Bolognese and b├ęchamel sauce with a slice or two of hard-boiled egg.

Tuscan Pig Italian Kitchen features vegetarian items, and gluten-free customers are invited to bring their own pasta to the restaurant that Kiapeta will cook for them.