Fresh, from Palermo

Published 10:15 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nunzio Misseri, manager of Al Forno Pizzeria, prepares to load a fresh batch of sub rolls into the oven. Al Forno prides itself on making all its ingredients fresh daily.

It’s been more than 30 years since Nunzio Misseri left Palermo, Italy to come to America. But no matter where we go as human beings, our respective homelands remain in our hearts, in our actions, and in our foods.

That’s why the principles of fresh ingredients, good service and good Italian food are at the core of a new pizzeria out on Holland Road, according to Misseri, the restaurant’s manager. Al Forno Pizzeria, which opened earlier this year, brings an authentic Italian cuisine to Suffolk, all under the clever disguise of a quaint little pizzeria.

Misseri said he has had an interest in Suffolk for some time and was pleased to be able to take over the building that used to be occupied by the Waffle House.

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Since the restaurant opened, the staff has enjoyed a steady flow of customers who discover what Misseri seems very proud of.

“We’re not just a pizza place,” Misseri said. “We do pasta, subs, and specialty pizzas.”

Food and cooking have been a passion for the longtime restaurateur. It is even a family affair, since Misseri’s father, Filippo, is also a retired restaurateur.

The son learned many of the tricks of the restaurant trade from his family. After years of working in other restaurants, Misseri seems to have developed a winning combination that his customers enjoy.

One of the main things he has learned and carried into his establishment is the concept of freshness. Almost everything is made fresh daily to ensure that nothing loses that authentic Italian vim.

“We use only extra virgin olive oil in our foods,” he said, explaining that doing so ensures a more flavorful dish. “We make everything fresh.”

Aside from its wide selection of specialty pizzas, Al Forno has a number of menu items that Misseri highly recommends.

“If you don’t want pizza, you should try the linguini with shrimp or the penne mari and monti.” “Mari” and “monti,” Misseri explained, translate to sea and mountain. The penne pasta dish consists of shrimp and chicken in marinara, heavy cream, basil and just a hint of brandy.

The staff at Al Forno takes pride in making everything fresh and in keeping things authentic. That means fresh-baked bread for the sub rolls; hand-made, preservative-free cannolis; and spaghetti sauce that takes a painstaking three hours to cook.

“Al forno” means “from the oven,” and “Al Forno,” the restaurant takes advantage of its ovens to help roll out everything in an authentic Italian style that fits right in with Suffolk’s increasingly eclectic food scene.

It’s all for the diners, Misseri said.

“I feel good when customers enjoy their food.”