I remember the freedom and ease that came with summer. I remember running around the backyard, which at the time seemed limitless, catching lightning bugs, and the smell of the magnolia trees around my house. There is something in a summer evening so sacred to us, it’s hard to put into words. We hold them close to us, knowing that their memory will never fail to bring us comfort, and look forward to more with the ever changing seasons.
While my memories of summer revolve almost entirely around Berks County, the men and women behind Nonno Alby’s had a very different kind of experience. Every year, they went to Italy where they had the opportunity to get in touch with their family’s heritage, and, more importantly, to eat real, Italian pizza. “You know the feeling [though] when you’ve been away from home and you just miss the flavors, the taste of home…there’s nothing like it,” Massimo, one of Nonno Alby’s managers, explained, “That’s how we felt about the pizza that we had in Italy every summer!”. The response to their insatiable pizza craving? Open a restaurant that specializes in authentic, neapolitan pizza: Nonno Alby’s Handcrafted Wood Oven Pizza!
And that is exactly what they did! On a Wednesday afternoon, my parents and I found a few patrons scattered around the restaurant, some enjoying pizza, others burgers. And after one glance at the menu, I knew that I had found a new local favorite. All of the dishes sounded amazing, but my mom and I finally settled on the Diavola pizza, topped with fresh mozzarella, hot sausage, hot pepper, and imported San Marzano tomato. We watched as Raffaele Cirandine, Nonno Alby’s chef, worked his way through the kitchen, carefully dressing the dough before placing it into the oven. “Everything’s fresh,” he assured us, “it’s fresh in Italy, so it’s got to be fresh here.” Massimo chimed in, “we wanted to bring the taste of Italy back to our home in Berks County. That is our goal, and that’s what sets us apart from other places in the area.” Anyone who listened to them talk would realize the same animated passion that they bring to the art of pizza, filled with excitement in their new business venture. Quite frankly, they have every right to be proud, and a fellow customer couldn’t help agreeing with me. “I’ve been to Italy,” he said “and I haven’t had anything this much like true Italian pizza since I came home. It’s awesome.” I could only nod along in agreement as Massimo and Raffaele exchanged a proud, grateful glance.
The restaurant’s name and logo were inspired by their father, Alby, which only serves as evidence to their devotion to family, an ever-present quality in Italian culture. However, at Nonno Alby’s, you will not only see the Grande family and their love for each other, but you will feel like you become a part of it. From the inviting atmosphere to the welcoming staff, you will have no trouble getting comfortable. Where many restaurants constantly work to get customers promptly in and out of the door, the crew there are more than happy to engage in conversation about their business and their families. What’s more, they seem genuinely interested in getting to know their customers. For that and the fantastic meal, I truly have to thank them. My parents and I so enjoyed our experience and we will undoubtedly be coming back frequently (with friends)! See you soon!
Manager’s favorites: Bianca, Tartufata, Frutta di Mare, and the Diavola
Location: 701 Penn Avenue, West Reading, PA 19611
Hours of Operation: Monday-Sunday 11:00am-9:00pm
P.S. The desserts are delicious too! I couldn’t help myself from stopping by tonight before I finished this post.