Joe Italiano and his wife Meredith (Avino) purchased Patchogue’s beloved pizza joint Del Fiore’s in June in the hopes of keeping with tradition. Del Fiore’s is now Bayport native Italiano’s “baby” — his first restaurant.
“We are really trying to maintain the integrity; it is such an amazing business with a huge following,” said Meredith. “Joey is so passionate about the food and the business. He also is putting his own spin on things,” she said, explaining that he puts in the time at the restaurant to continue the success that it has been. “It’s still the amazing Del Fiore’s it has always been.”
Del Fiore’s Pizzeria opened on North Ocean Avenue and Oak Street about 20 years ago, then moved to the 75 East Main Street location about 10 years ago to expand. Italiano has kept the staff, recipes and menu the same, and still offers favorites like the Irish pie on Thursdays and the calamari pie on Fridays. Additionally, he unquestionably kept the general manager of 20 years, Paolo Amato.
“Paolo is the staple of this place, the heartbeat,” added Italiano, explaining that working with Amato and relying on his 20 years of experience and knowledge has been a great benefit.
Currently the pizzeria handles take-out at about 60 percent, with some casual sit-downs. Italiano has since added some weekly specials, like his new clam pie, and extended the hours of the pizzeria by staying open on weekends until 3 a.m. just for slices.
Now, a few months into ownership and keeping the customer favorites on the menu, Italiano plans to offer an additional dinner menu. He obtained a liquor license earlier this month that allows them to serve beer and wine. The newly added menu, he said, will come in the New Year, along with a bar, a renovated back dining room and possibly new seating and décor. Waitress service, silverware and plates will soon follow to add to the dining experience. The hope, Italiano said, is to fill a gap in the Patchogue Italian restaurant market after Main Street Italian Bistro closed a few years back.
“We want to see families come in and have a pie, a bottle of wine or pitcher of soda and feel like they are in a ‘restaurant,’” added Meredith.
Italiano hinted at some of the items soon to be on the new menu: rigatoni with hot sausage, mushrooms and onions, polenta cakes with pork ragu, spiedini alla romana and his father’s homemade Italian cheesecake. The menu will be small, he said, with about five apps, pastas and dinners, and three desserts. Italiano’s father, Marc, who passed away in 2018, was the inspiration for Italiano’s movement away from the family construction business and into the culinary world. It was his father who helped him develop his passion for food growing up.
“I am just doing what I love and have a passion for with the same great food,” Italiano said. “It’s all about customer service, and now the customers have a new face to put to the pizzeria and are happy with the change. We just want everyone to be happy and come back to enjoy another delicious meal.”