Reale’s Italian Cafe

Realeu2019s Italian Cafe offers a variety of pizza and pasta dishes for lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday.

Realeu2019s Italian Cafe offers a variety of pizza and pasta dishes for lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday.

Gino Reale, who co-owns Reale’s Italian Cafe with his father, Bob, was 15 years old when the family pizzeria opened in 1981, near where Reale’s sits today at Anderson Mill Road and US 183.

Gino said on opening day his older brother, Sal, called him out of school to help the family operate the eatery because it was slammed with customers.

“Everything went wrong,” Gino said. “My mother was crying. … And my dad’s like, ‘We’ve got this.’”

The pizzeria was a success, but within two years, Gino’s sister, Rena, who waited tables at the restaurant, died in a car collision. A few months later, Gino’s house burned down.

“Our whole world was wrecked,” Gino said.

Gino said his mother, Marie, struggled to recover from the events, but Bob assured her the family was going to dust themselves off and start over.

“He’s the rock. He’s the man. … He is the heart and soul of the restaurant,” Gino said of his father.

The restaurant was successful through the mid-1980s, but it was forced to close after the stock market crash of 1987, Gino said.

Gino said he joined the Navy and learned many of the leadership skills he uses to operate Reale’s today. Bob started driving a taxicab and worked at McDonald’s for a time, Gino said.

In 1994, Bob and Marie again tried their hand at the restaurant business. When Gino returned from the Navy in 1996, he rejoined the team at Reale’s, and the restaurant has been successful for the past 22 years, Gino said.

Gino, Bob and Gino’s 25-year-old son, Dominic, work at the restaurant every day, and other family members pitch in whenever they are needed, Gino said.

“It is the real Italian family atmosphere,” he said.

Gino said his favorite dishes include the Seafood ala Diavola ($17.99), with shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams in olive oil and garlic and topped with spicy marinara over linguine; the Sausage and Peppers ($14.75), with sweet Italian sausage sauteed with roasted red and green bell peppers and onions and topped with spicy marinara over fettuccine; and the pork chop Italian style ($17.99), which is grilled and topped with peppers, onions and mushrooms.

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