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Juliano's follows legacy of family patriarch

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Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009
 

The man behind Juliano's Authentic Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria is gone, but the mark he made remains on everything from the delicious meals to the personalized service.

The late Gaetano "Guy" Scalise always dreamed of owning a restaurant. He worked his way from selling ice cream out of a truck to opening this nationally recognized establishment in Robinson.

"My father treated everyone like they were a member of his family, and he taught us to do the same," says his son, owner Nick Scalise. "My father made his mark on this restaurant. If you look around, you can still see his handiwork in everything from the food to the design of the dining room to how we interact with our customers."

Continuing his dad's legacy is what makes Juliano's more than a restaurant, Scalise says.

"We strive for perfection," he says. "We may still make mistakes. I don't expect everything to be perfect all the time. But what I do expect is our response time to be quick to help make something right. I take it personally when people are unhappy."

Customer Janet Miller of Ingram says Juliano's is her favorite lunch stop. If you don't see something on the menu but they have the ingredients, they will make it.

"They care about their customers," she says. "When Nick's father died, everyone from the workers to the customers grieved because it is like a family atmosphere here."

The elder Scalise died last year after he fell from a ladder trying to repair the shop's air-conditioning unit. He was 79.

"People asked me why I let my father climb a ladder at that age," Nick Scalise says. "I told him years ago he shouldn't be doing things like that, but if you knew my father, you'd understand. He taught us to take pride in our heritage and that hard work will take you a long way."

Many of Juliano's recipes are those of Nick Scalise's mother, Grace, 79. She still makes the gnocchi. Try it in marinara sauce with salad, bread and butter for $9.99. Another favorite is the Chicken Ala Nico, which is penne pasta, char-grilled chicken, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach sauteed in creamy garlic sauce for $14.99.

There are various pizza options, from a 16-inch cheese Sicilian for $13.50 to a 16-inch buffalo chicken pie for $16.75. Choose from one of five tomato-based sauces or the tasty alfredo for your pasta. The lunch buffet, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, includes pizza, salad, pasta, dessert and a drink for $8.25.

Theresa Grilli has worked at Juliano's from day one, leaving only to raise her children.

"We are very close," she says. "Nick's mom is great, and his dad was a wonderful man. We can joke with each other, and we know our customers. That is what keeps people coming back. This is a little gold mine here."

Juliano's started out as an ice cream store in 1978, a step up from the truck filled with cool treats Gaetano Scalise drove in past summers. In 1982, it became an Italian restaurant serving Southern Italy cuisine and was named Juliano's in 1984. A big break came in 1987, when Juliano's won a B-94 best pizza contest.

They have since won two national awards, six local awards and a gold pizza award.

Co-workers Denise Signore of Ingram and Pam Gillespie of Brentwood go to Juliano's at least once a week for the buffet. They had been seated only a few minutes before a server brought them a basket of their favorite wings.

"They do things like that without us having to ask, because they know what we like," Signore says.

"He makes us feel special," Gillespie says. "This is one of the best pizza places in the city. And you get a lot of food for the money. The buffet has everything."

Additional Information:

Juliano's

Location: 5476 Steubenville Pike, Robinson

Hours: 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, noon-9 p.m. Sundays (lunch phone-in orders are taken as early as 9 a.m.)

Details: 412-787-2959 or Web site

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