Joe Pullara and Sal Cacciato met when they were just teenagers working at Caffe Amici in Selden’s Independence Plaza. Now the duo is back together partnering up on a new Italian concept, Capellini Trattoria Pizzeria, that recently opened down the road.

“When Sal was 21 years old, he ended up buying Caffe Amici and together we learned a lot about the business,” said Pullara. “We’ve had other restaurants in the past — we’ve been doing this for a while.”

While Cacciato ran his restaurant, Pullara left Caffe Amici to take on a full-time job elsewhere. “I left the business for a while, but I still had a passion for this business,” he said. “And I decided to come back.”

He told GreaterPortJeff that in June, the partners found an empty space in the Best Yet shopping center on Middle Country Road in Selden, just two miles away east from Caffe Amici.

“This opportunity came up and we decided to venture back in together as partners,” he said, “And this is what we came up with.”

Formerly occupied by Boccone Pizzeria & Ristorante, the space was going up for auction, but the business partners decided to make a deal.

“We called the former owner, stopped the auction, made a deal and bought it,” said Pullara. “We completely redesigned everything.”

After seven months, Capellini was born.

The space is newly finished with large dining areas, a pizza counter and full bar. “We wanted to bring a new restaurant into Selden,” he said. “A lot of thinking went into what kind of restaurant we wanted to open up and we decided to open a restaurant that is similar to Caffe Amici, but that has its own identity.”

Compared to the other location, Capellini has a modern take on the typical Italian restaurant.

“We want to give you options,” Pullara said. “I want this to be the neighborhood place that you can come to and no matter what anyone’s feeling, you can get it all in the same spot.”

At Capellini, traditional Italian dishes are plentiful, but have a more modern take. “Italian food is endless classics,” added Pullara. “It never goes out of style… but we make dishes that are a new spin on old favorites.”

Some different items on the menu include eggplant fries, cinnamon knots and their staple dish, Capellini cakes, which is angel hair pasta that’s tossed with different cheeses, breaded, lightly friend and turned into a cake.

The cakes, along with other specialties like rice balls, are served with a trio of sauces to represent the Italian flag — a green pesto sauce, a white alfredo sauce and a red marinara. “The sky’s the limit,” he said. “We just want to make people happy when they come here.”

After having a spontaneous soft opening last week, the restaurant is officially open with a full menu. Pullara said the first night open was so busy they had a packed house. “It’s a very rewarding business,” he added. “It’s a great feeling when you cook something for someone… I feel like I’m doing something good, I’m making people happy by feeding them good food.”

Open for lunch and dinner with more weekly specials to come, Capellini Trattoria Pizzeria wants to stick to their slogan, “Great Food.”

“You’re going to get great service, great food, and have a great experience,” he said.

Capellini Trattoria Pizzeria is located at 229 Middle Country Road in Selden.

Photos courtesy of Capellini