Standing behind the counter at Mannino’s Pizzeria Restaurant on East Main Street, Frank Mannino fields questions about his newborn son from a steady stream of customers as he casually takes orders and works the register, his employees darting around him.
And it's been that way for 10 years.
The Italian-born Mannino opened his doors in Smithtown in 2000 after spending six years running a Commack pizzeria of the same name with his two brothers, Joe and John. Each brother ended up with his own establishment, the most recent being John’s in Oakdale.
Over the last decade Mannino has developed a loyal following in Smithtown that has helped fuel a steady increase in business and a 2009 expansion, which doubled the restaurant’s size when it took over an adjacent space.
“We’re in an upswing,” he said of current traffic. He said sales are distributed fairly evenly between the business’ dine-in and take-out services. He attributes his success to a simple formula – “Good service, high quality food and dedication,” and keeps things interesting with a menu change every six months.
Mannino was born and raised in Sicily, moving to the U.S. in 1984. He called his cuisine “deep-roots Italian,” a mixture of traditional family recipes and American pizzeria classics. For example, a classic margarita pie with a rich red sauce interspersed with fresh basil leaves sits next to a buffalo chicken pie drizzled with blue cheese dressing. The offerings represent a wide spectrum, Mannino said, from your average slice to choices of fresh fish and live lobster, complimented by an extensive wine menu.
“We’re known for our stuffed veal chop,” he said.
He and his recipes aren’t the only Italian imports in the place – six of his employees are also Italian, including his chef and bartender. Mannino and the bartender banter in their Sicilian dialect, adding an old-country feel that is found less and less as generations of Italian eatery owners assimilate.
Mannino also has three veterans in his employ, one recently returned from an overseas deployment. He said he put out an ad encouraging veterans to apply.
“I believe in supporting those who have served,” he said.
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