Tables are topped with fresh flowers and white linens, but the atmosphere at Cafe Amore is neighborhood casual. The restaurant, situated along Coit Road, hosts parties, anniversaries, bar mitzvahs and reunions in addition to its daily lunch and dinner crowds.
Owner and chef Vangji Fejzulla said her guests are more than neighbors—they are family.
“I remember when some of my customers were sitting in high chairs, and now, they have grown up and gotten married, and their own children are the ones in the high chairs,” Fejzulla said. “I am the grandmom of the community.”
Fejzulla said she got her first restaurant job washing dishes and prepping food in 1995 when she moved from Albania to Richardson. She could not speak English at the time, but she knew food.
“I told my chef ‘I can cook great Italian,’ and he gave me a chance,” Fejzulla said.
Five years later, she and her husband, Ilir, opened Cafe Amore.
Fejzulla begins her 12-hour day around 8 a.m. by prepping catered lunches, which she personally delivers to hospitals, schools and offices.
The restaurant’s menu offers a variety of pizza, pasta and salads as well as steaks, veal and seafood dishes.
The Pizza Aberesche, for example, is topped with grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, fresh garlic, parsley and mozzarella.
“‘Aberesche’ means ‘community’ [in Albanian],” Fejzulla said. “You won’t find pizza like this anywhere else.”
Fejzulla said she is particularly fond of preparing the homemade desserts. Her famous tiramisu is made daily with espresso-dipped ladyfingers, mascarpone, coffee and a rich crema.
“I put my life here,” Fejzulla said. “I take pride in my work, in our food, in our community.”