If you’re seeking legit Italian cuisine in an unpretentious setting, Alex & Teresa’s Pizzeria & Trattoria is definitely worth a visit. Clearly the readers of Cary Magazine concur, as the restaurant nabbed the “Best New Restaurant” honor in the 2020 Maggy Awards.
Nestled in Cary’s Walmart-anchored Northwoods Shopping Center, the eatery opened in January 2019. Since day one, it has served bona fide Neapolitan cuisine.
Husband-and-wife proprietors Alex Greco and Teresa Russo both hail from Naples, Italy. On any given day you visit, you’ll hear the owners conversing in their native language with dear friend and executive chef Alberto Di Somma (affectionately known as Chef Alberto) and the waitstaff, all of whom are Italian.
A veteran restaurateur, Greco operated his family’s trattoria in Naples for 15 years. He also co-owned an Italian haunt in New Jersey before relocating to Cary for a better quality of life. Russo’s family also ran a restaurant in her homeland, and Di Somma has spanned the globe with his seasoned cooking skills.
“We love serving authentic Italian food to the people in Cary,” Greco said during a recent lunchtime chat. “We appreciate that they keep coming back to enjoy the food at our trattoria.”
When it comes to the food, begin your meal by selecting a starter such as prosciutto and hand-pulled mozzarella, fresh fried calamari or the Polpettini alla diavola (mini meatballs in a zesty tomato sauce). Stellar house-baked focaccia bread is served warm, but don’t eat too much and risk not having room for the main course.
Speaking of entrees, you can’t go wrong when choosing any of the fresh pasta dishes prepared from scratch. Di Somma makes classic spaghetti, ravioli, cavatelli, linguine, gnocchi, penne and much more.
House specialty Lasagna Alberto, made with beef and fresh mozzarella, may be the best you’ll ever taste on this side of the Atlantic. Consider yourself advised to trust but verify.
“The lasagna is among the most popular dishes we serve,” Greco said. “It is absolutely deliziouso.”
Other standout dishes include basil-infused Gnocchi alla Sorrentina; red-wine-laden Tagliatelle alla Bolognese; and Spaghetti con Cozze alla Romana with mussels and pecorino cheese, a praiseworthy main course worth ordering time and again.
Solid vegetarian options abound. Deliberate between Trofie al Pesto involving short, twisted pasta; Tagliatelle al Funghi Porcini (flat pasta with mushrooms); or Napoli-style eggplant Parmesan.
In the mood for pizza? Go for a simple choice like Margherita, Caprese or Bruschetta. Or, for a more adventurous offering, try a seafood pie crowned with fresh, seasonal fare or the Alessandro containing prosciutto, cherry tomatoes, arugula, Parmesan, fresh mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil and basil. Pizza by the slice is available on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Alex and Teresa’s is a kid-friendly establishment. It offers a “bambino” menu that features more than half a dozen items, such as spaghetti with red sauce, farfalle Alfredo and cheese pizza, with optional toppings available for a small up-charge.
White and red wine is available by the bottle or the glass. A fine assortment of Italian beers keeps things appropriately genuine.
If you still have room for dessert, contemplate indulging in handmade creme brulee, tiramisu or the primo panna cotta. There’s also affogato, a traditional coffee-based treat, and a decadent Nutella calzone, which the menu describes as “a favorite for kids of all ages.”
The restaurant’s décor is a work in progress, but the modest dining room is filled with enough tables and chairs to seat about 75 people. An open kitchen allows for watching Di Somma work his magic.
When you visit, it’s likely you’ll encounter the gregarious Greco mingling with guests and ensuring they are satisfied.
“I treat everyone like they are family coming to my home for dinner,” he said.
Alex & Teresa’s is the kind of restaurant where if you leave hungry, it’s your own fault. Of course, you can always take leftovers home to enjoy the next day.
Before you leave, buy some pizza dough, spicy extra virgin olive oil or mozzarella by the pound.
Closed on Mondays, Alex & Teresa’s is open six days a week for lunch and dinner with continuous service throughout the day. Reservations are accepted and strongly recommended on weekends.
941 North Harrison Ave., Cary
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