People who stopped in to test out Alex & Teresa’s inside the first few months after its starting were greeted by way of Sinatra tunes and ground-to-ceiling murals of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. If they took these cues to intend that they had entered a New York Italian pizza-pasta joint, they were in for a surprise once they opened the menu.
Instead of a catalog of Italian-American favorites, they found offerings like cuoppo di Gennarino, polpettine alla diavola and trofie salsiccia e friarelli. Instead of every other strip mall Italian-American eatery, those lucky gastronomic explorers had stumbled across a restaurant specializing in proper Italian cuisine.
Neapolitan, to be unique, is the local cuisine of the restaurant’s proprietors, Teresa Russo (whose own family owned a restaurant in Naples) and her husband, Alex Greco, a skilled pizzaiolo who also facilitates out inside the dining room. The couple, who come to Cary with the aid of manner of New York, opened Alex & Teresa’s in January. Their enthusiasm for the food of their formative years is plain as they solution your questions and describe dishes, several of which you may never have heard of.
They explain that cuoppo di Gennarino is an appetizer sampler inspired by snacks served in a paper cone (“cuoppo”) on the streets of Naples. I’ll add that it’s an unusual way to begin your exploration. The latest sampler protected creamy-targeted potato croquettes, triangles of fried pizza dough, and a saffron-tinged rice ball as massive as a baseball, packed with molten mozzarella, bolognese sauce, and green peas — all organized around a small dish of San Marzano tomato dipping sauce.
Polpettine alla Diavolo, miniature red meatballs simmered in a spicy tomato sauce, is any other winning starter. So is homemade burrata with speck— a herbal partner for the crusty residence-baked bread you’ll be served hot out of the oven. Fried calamari (Alex proudly informs you that the squid is sparkling, no longer frozen) wished a little salt when I ordered it but have been otherwise exemplary.
Fresh pasta is a house specialty, with options ranging from classically simple spaghetti cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper) to trofie salsiccia e friarelli (a quick, twisted pasta Italian sausage and broccoli rabe). Ravioli, whose ricotta filling can be tinged with orange or lemon (chef’s preference), is a delightful trade of pace, regardless of which citrus is featured.
The ravioli is a handful of vegetarian options, at the side of gnocchi alla Sorrentina (sparkling mozzarella, tomato, and basil), trofie al pesto, and tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms (which additionally happens to be gluten-free).
If you honestly ought to get your Italian-American restoration, you’ll discover an utterly saucy spaghetti with meatballs, some of the half-dozen or so listings beneath the Dry Pasta heading. Other options cover an extensive spectrum from penne alla Siciliana (every other departure from Neapolitan domestic turf, presenting eggplant, tomatoes, clean mozzarella, and basil) to linguine al scolio (seafood and cherry tomatoes in white wine, olive oil, and garlic).