Fortissimo Osteria Pizzeria Celebrates 30-Year Anniversary in West Orange

Three Generations of Castronovos: from left: Frank, 26, Dorotea and Santo, owner of Fortissimo. Credits: Jackie Goldman-Schatell
Print Out This Coupon: In honor of its 30-year anniversary, West Orange staple, Fortissimo Osteria Pizzeria, located at 484 Pleasant Valley Way, is offering patrons a special deal for the month of June. Patrons are invited to print out the coupon located in the photo gallery above and bring it into Fortissimo for a one-time discounted take-out offer of two cheese pizzas for $17.95. Read coupon for specific details. Credits: Jackie Goldman-Schatell

WEST ORANGE, NJ - In honor of its 30-year anniversary, West Orange staple, Fortissimo Osteria Pizzeria, located at 484 Pleasant Valley Way, is offering patrons a special deal for the month of June. Patrons are invited to print out the coupon located in the photo gallery above and bring it into Fortissimo for a one-time discounted take-out offer of two cheese pizzas for $17.95. Read coupon for specific details.

The restaurant, which boasts three generations of Castronovos, offers a variety of pizzas, homemade pasta dishes, traditional favorites and more. Fortissimo also has a liquor license, serves beer, wine and cordials, and boasts a big screen tv so patrons can watch games. And, patrons can also order food online and have events catered.

Santo Castronovo, owner of Fortissimo, says his parents' home-style recipes, being able to adapt to new trends and knowing what his patrons like, are the secrets to his restaurant's success.

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"I grew up in an Italian household where both of my parents were excellent cooks and every day was like the traditional Sunday dinner most Italian families get together for," said Santo. "I now share many of those homemade favorites on my menu."

"We have a nice niche, right in the middle, serving comfort foods to repeat customers," he said.

"I love the pastas that we make," he added. "Some of our best sellers are the Rigatoni alla Vodka and the Ravioli D'aragosta (lobster ravioli). I also love the simple pastas with tomato and basil—those kinds of meals, because that’s what we often had as a family on Sundays. And, then of course there are the veal and chicken dishes we serve, which also stem back to the meals I enjoyed as a child."

The best sellers at Fortissimo include: Chicken Parmesan; Rigatoni alla Vodka sauce; Cappelini Primavera, a vegetarian dish; and of course pizza.

"Pizza is what we started with," said Santo. "What began simply as margarita style, with plum tomatoes, fresh homemade mozzarella and crushed basil has evolved and we now also offer new pizzas that the kids like, such as: Buffalo Chicken Pizza with Buffalo Sauce; BBQ Chicken Pizza; and Baked Ziti Pizza."

The restaurant, which is open seven days a week, has a huge lunch and dinner crowd, which includes an influx of teachers.

"We serve many teachers at lunch, and last year we began offering them free shirts to let them know we not only appreciate their patronage, but what they do for our children," said Santo. "With new stricter laws being passed, the PARCC tests measuring their skills and the everyday stresses of shaping the minds of future generations, we wanted them to know how much their efforts are appreciated." 

Family meals are still a big part of Santo's life, and he enjoys meeting up with his brothers, who also own Italian restaurants, at his parents' home in Parlin on Sundays. Together, the Castronovos own several restaurants throughout NJ including: Fortissimo in West Orange; Master Pizza in Livingston; Master Pizza in West Orange; Master Pizza in Union; Master Pizza in Rockaway; Santino's Pizza in Parlin; Cuzzins Pizza in Freehold; Cuzzins Pizza in Toms River; Cuzzins Pizza in Point Pleasant; Giusseppe's Pizza in Old Bridge; and Destino's Pizza in Jackson.

But, while Santo's father, Francesco, owned a restaurant called Santino's Pizza in Parlin, where the family was raised, and all of the sons worked at one time or another, Santo didn't always know he wanted to be a restauranteur. 

"I graduated college with an electrical engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology," he said. "Though following graduation, I had job offers in the field, I quickly realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Apparently, I had sauce in my veins."

His dad found a location for a restaurant in West Orange, which at the time was the home of Pleasantdale Pizza, and asked Santo if he wanted to go into business with him there. 

"At the time, I was thinking we could fix it up, give it a run, and perhaps flip it and make some money," said Santo. "And, I knew I could always go back to engineering if need be. But here I am 30 years later—still loving the business."

Now Santo's son, Frank, 26, has joined the fold, stating that he too has sauce in his veins—keeping Fortissimo in the family for a third generation.

"We have had a great run here in West Orange," said Santo. "We love it here. We love our patrons, who are such salt of the earth types. We love what we do and we plan to keep on doing it for at least another 30 years."

TAP into West Orange is proud to highlight one of our main sponsors, Fortissimo Osteria Pizzeria. TAP into West Orange thanks Fortissimo Osteria Pizzeria for its continued support in helping us to deliver important news to the residents of these communities on a daily basis. Because of sponsors like Fortissimo Osteria Pizzeria, TAP into West Orange is completely free to subscribers.

To learn more about becoming a sponsor of TAP into West Orange, contact Jackie Schatell at (201) 618-7444.

This is the offical colum for Fortissimo Osteria Pizzeria, a staple in the West Orange community.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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