Italian Restaurant Becoming an Island Favorite

Come to Oregano Joe’s in Wantagh and you’ll be back soon. With fresh bread, homemade meatballs and the best tomatoes around, becoming a regular isn’t really an option, it’s unavoidable.

“Every week is our busiest week,” said owner Ralph Belfiore, who opened the spot with son Joseph Belfiore and nephew Anthony Suppa in February. “For those who come to dinner, they come back, and that’s all I can ask for.”


image: Phil Gallo, Ralph Belfiore and Anthony Suppa

Belfiore describes the menu as straightforward Italian. There’s upside down and grandma pizzas and on Sundays a macaroni special that includes a salad, bowl of macaroni topped with one meatball, beef short rib and sausage, plus a cannoli or cheesecake for dessert, that has become a hit.

“All of our recipes are recipes brought up through the family from years ago,” he said. “That’s how we eat at home, and it’s what we bring to the table here.”

Family is a big word around Oregano Joe’s, and not just because it’s a family owned and operated business. The most popular table is one in the corner of the dining room that seats eight to ten people.

“This table is full every night with families. It’s mom, dad, grandma, grandpa and four kids,” Belfiore said.

image: this table is Oregano Joe's most popular

image: this table is Oregano Joe’s most popular

Family is one of the things Belfiore loves about the pizzeria industry. He worked in it for 20 years as the owner of Mulberry Street Restaurants, but 13 years ago he changed course, opening up restaurants Hudson’s Mill in Massapequa and Chop Shop Bar & Grill in Smithtown. Both of which, while successful, tend to be full of mostly adults.

“We like the kids,” Belfiore said. “It’s a more casual type of dining experience, which is great.”

And Belfiore hopes that those kids continue to keep coming back for decades to come.

“At [Mulberry Street], I had kids coming up in strollers and then 16 years later trying to pick up the pizza,” he said. “That’s the whole part of the family thing. It’s exciting to see the whole cycle.”

beth ann clyde

beth ann clyde

Beth Ann Clyde is a social strategist of Long Island Pulse. Have a story idea or just want to say hello? Email or reach out on Twitter @BAClyde.