Fresh garlic is key at Cafe Italiano


As a restaurant owner for many years, Galo Paguay knows the secret is in pleasing customers.

That courtesy makes them return to Café Italiano, his second restaurant, opened two years ago on East Naylor Mill Road.

“You have to be friendly with everybody. I like to talk a lot, so if I’m there, I talk to the people,” said Paguay, who does some cooking. The main chef is Daniel Carretero Rivera.

Paguay’s other restaurant, Café Milano, on Route 13 north, was established many years ago and is more of a carry-out pizza shop, but Café Italiano is a sit-down restaurant where baked ziti, lasagna and ravioli are popular choices.

Among favorites are Chicken Italiano, in a mushroom sauce and topped with ham and melted mozzarella, and Tilapia Italiano, a fillet with clams and shrimp in a light spicy garlic and oil sauce.

“We sell a lot of salads, especially in summer,” he said.

Subs are on the menu and a favorite one is chicken cheese steak, made from fresh chicken breast. Meat lovers Stromboli is well-received.

For lunch customers often select shrimp parmesan or one of about a dozen kinds of pizza, including Hawaiian, cheese-steak, stuffed pizza with double crust, Mexican pizza with chorizo, jalapeno and onions or the house specialty pizza, featuring pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives and extra cheese.

“Or, if you want something special we will make it for you. If we have the ingredients we will make it. We want the customer to be happy,” Paguay said.

Various types of wines are also available at Café Italiano, open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

“Everything we make is fresh. When a customer orders shrimp parmesan, we fix it at that time. It is never frozen. For all the salad, we cut all the vegetables in the morning. We prepare our own pizza dough,” he said.

Sauce is purchased from an Italian foods supplier in New Jersey, “but we put all the seasoning in it,” Paguay said.

“We use lots of fresh garlic. It makes a difference,” he said.

For dessert, there are cheesecake, tiramisu and cannoli.

“People who come here like it. They keep coming back,” he said.

Former Salisbury resident Damion Drummond, who now lives in Virginia, never misses ordering pepperoni pizza from Café Milano when he’s in town and plans to try Café Italiano.

“I always go in for lunch. The pizza is very balanced. It’s consistent. The dough is soft. Even if you reheat it, it’s soft and there is perfect seasoning,” he said.

“I’ve known him for years. He always comes in,” Paguay said about Drummond.

“We use good quality cheese and sauce in our pizza. We always use the same quality product. We have to be that way if we want people to come back,” he said.

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