It's all about family at Biaggio's Pizzeria and Family Restaurant. Father-son duo Joseph and Salvatore Ruffino began serving their family's traditional Italian cuisine June 10 in South Whitehall Township's Crest Plaza shopping center.
"We want our guests to feel like they are part of our own family," said Salvatore Ruffino, who is also the front house manager. "And there's only one way to do that — with great quality food and great customer service."
The restaurant at 1526 N. Cedar Crest Blvd. (next to Cold Stone Creamery) replaces the previous family-owned Attilio's Italian Restaurant, which closed May 31 when the owners retired.
Joseph Ruffino, who is recovering from surgery, is no stranger to the restaurant industry. He operated Salvatore Ruffino's restaurant on Allen Street in Allentown for many years.
"Biaggio's is my father's vision," Salvatore Ruffino said. "He spent countless hours developing the menu and will be cooking at the restaurant once his health improves."
Diners may choose from a vast menu featuring everything from angus burgers, paninis and wraps to hot and cold hoagies and classic chicken and veal entrees. Of course, the eatery's main draw is its wide selection of pizzas, including gourmet specialty pizzas like "The Moby Dick" and "The Kitchen Sink."
"People really like our sauce because it's sweeter than most others," said Salvatore Ruffino. "We also serve dessert pizzas, including strawberry cheese and apple caramel cheese."
The pair, along with two helpers, spent seven days remodeling the kitchen and dining room. "It was like the TV show 'Restaurant Impossible,' but with four people, not 45," Salvatore Ruffino said. "We installed new flooring, wall paneling — everything."
Further proof of the business' family focus lies in family photos that will soon adorn the walls. There is also a glass case featuring homemade Middle Eastern dishes like tabouli, grape leaves, hummus and baba ghanoush. "My mom is from Syria, so that's her influence," Salvatore Ruffino said.
The restaurant, which is BYOB, offers discounts to employees of Parkland School District, South Whitehall Township and Crest Plaza. A grand opening celebration is planned for mid-July. Info: 610-395-7006.
A tip from Retail Watcher Marlene Burkey of Bethlehem helped me discover that a PetSmart is being constructed at the former Dan Schantz Greenhouse location in Bethlehem's Lehigh Shopping Center.
PetSmart confirmed the store's construction on West Union Boulevard and announced an anticipated opening date of Sept. 7. Trendy clothing store Citi Trends moved into part of the former greenhouse in 2011.
Further west on Union Boulevard, an Allentown business has been a bit of a mystery to some Retail Watchers. "Do you have any idea when the Fat Boys BBQ truck will be opening on Union Boulevard or if they will be there at all?" Susan Marek asks.
Fat Boys House of BBQ, which opened in 2011 but later closed, says it will not be open at 652 Union Blvd. (near Coca-Cola Park) this year, and it is booked for catering for the entire summer. Individuals craving the food truck's pulled pork, smoked sausage, baked beans and other menu items are advised to monitor the company's website, fatboyshouseofbbq.com, for future updates.
Where one food truck closes, another one opens. Sisters Lauren and Oliva Albright will hold a grand opening of their Sugar & Spice Pies food truck noon-5 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of Creative Tile Imports at 826 Fenwick St. in Allentown. Pie samples will be served during the event.
The sisters, both graduates of Allentown Central Catholic High School, are excited to share their love of food in the place they love the most. Their menu features open pies (pie shells with overflowing fillings and toppings), hand pies (think Hot Pockets), pie bites (perfect size to pop in mouth) and single-serve sweets (personal pies).
As you may have guessed from the name, there are both sweet and savory selections, including "The Big Al," a pulled pork open pie with pickled onions and an apple, orange and cabbage slaw, and "The Liberty Bell," a personal brown butter caramel apple pie sprinkled with sea salt.
The sisters will operate their business, which is also available for catering, at various locations in the city. Info: 484-325-1758 or sugarandspicepies.com.
My colleagues Emily Opilo and Scott Kraus reported Tuesday that Sangria at 840 W. Hamilton St. in Allentown has allowed its liquor license to expire and begun serving only lunch. The fate of the downtown restaurant, which opened in August 2010, is now in question even as more than a half dozen new restaurants are proposed for the same corridor.
Another one of my colleagues, Samantha Marcus, reported Wednesday that the Lehigh County commissioners rejected tax financing for Hamilton Crossings, possibly closing the door to popular retailers Costco and Whole Foods in the Lehigh Valley.