10 Questions With the Owner of Fratelli’s Ristorante

By Jake Chiarelli

Founded on the principles of a local Italian family,  Joesph “Joe” and Tom “Gaetano” Alagna opened Fratelli’s Ristorante in 1983. The word “fratelli” means “brothers” in Italian. The two brothers based their restaurant on values from their parents. Tommaso and Francesca Alagna opened their restaurant, “Tomasso’s,” with their sons in 1970. Now, the brothers run the day-to-day operations at Fratelli’s. The restaurant serves appetizers, salads, thin-crust pizza, pastas and traditional Italian food.

The dessert counter at Fratelli's Ristorante.
The dessert counter at Fratelli’s Ristorante.
1. What’s your name?
Joe Alagna
2. What year did you open Fratelli’s?
 3. Why did you open the store?
Our parents were in the business, and we learned the restaurant business when we were young. We knew how our parents struggled and that it was a hard business, and we didn’t want any part of it. I went to school to be an engineer and worked at Monsanto, but there was a recession in 1983, and I got laid off.  I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to open my own business, but it took my getting fired to make it happen. My brother and I decided to open small pizzeria and it grew from there.
4. Where did you get the inspiration for your menu?
Family recipes, and most of our recipes were for how we cooked at home growing up. We had friends in the business who gave us ideas, and some are our own creations. We watched a lot of cooking shows. If people liked it hen we put it Jon the menu.
5. Do you use many family recipes?
Yes, and we use things we picked up here and there as well.
6. What is your favorite dish?
The lasagna is my favorite pasta, and I like the chicken piccata a lot.
7. How much of an impact did your parents have on your decision to open a restaurant?
I think it was a huge impact, they knew that if Tom and I put our heads together, we could do well.
8. What happened to your parent’s business?
My parents came over from Sicily in 1948. They had their own business, but when they retired in 1975, they sold it. They helped us out for a few years cooking and financially, and it became a success.
 9. What set’s Fratelli’s apart from other Italian Restaurants?
There are family restaurants and corporate businesses, and we’re definitely a family restaurant. Plus, we use all fresh ingredients. 90% of our menu is house made. All the pizza dough, sauces, and the breeding for fish and chicken is made by us.  The other side of it is the service. We strive to make our customers aware that between Tom and I, one of us is always here, and we make customer service a top priority. We make it clear to all of our customers that they are the most important thing to us.
10. What is the best part of owning your own restaurant?
The best part is making it what you want it to be. If you want it to be a success, you work at it, and shape it, and the satisfaction of having repeat customers, that are happy. I have employees that have been with us for 30 years, and their kids are with us,. It’s a rewarding business.