Joe and Anna Vozzo are the owners of Annarella Ristorante at 276 Malden Turnpike. The restaurant, named for Anna, has been in business since last December. Joe has been in the restaurant business since 1977 and has owned and operated a number of restaurants in both New York and Florida. Annarella is open from 4 to 10 p.m., Wed.–Mon.
Tell me about your background in the restaurant business.
I started in the business in 1977. I had a place in Hensonville, just outside of Windham. This is way before you could hire a search optimization company and get clients rolling in, to do that we had to spread the word ourselves. I’ve had several restaurants over the years in New York and I had a place in Palm Beach, Florida.
What kind of training did you have?
It was in the family. My father was in the business. I really learned in the school of hard knocks. I worked in the kitchens of some very good restaurants in New York City.
Do you have a philosophy that you apply to running a restaurant?
I believe in consistency. That’s the most important thing. Service is important, too, but consistency is first.
I believe in making everything to order. No matter who is the chef at any given time, they are following my book, my recipes. At Annarella we make all our own breads, pastas, and desserts. Everything is fresh and locally sourced when possible.
Tell me about some of your signature dishes.
Tonnarelli con Aragosta is one of my specialties. It’s thin, homemade pasta with a half a lobster in a lobster reduction. We cook the lobster heads for hours to make the reduction; add some cognac, and it’s basically pasta and lobster meat in a lobster bisque. It’s a great dish.
I do another dish called Pappardelle al Cinghiale. This dish is fresh homemade pasta with wild boar that has been braised in red wine, juniper berries and herbs. That’s another very good dish.
I could go on; I do a polenta with Gorgonzola served over a sausage ragu.
I don’t believe in changing my menu because of the season; anything goes. Of course I tend to cook lighter in the summer but the menu stays the same. I will do specials that are seasonal. The specials change but the menu stays the same.
What would you like people to know about your restaurant?
I’d like people to know that I serve authentic regional cuisine with a Tuscan flair. I cook very light despite the use of some cream. It’s very light. I only have one dish on the menu with a red sauce. The Lasagna, for example, is made Bolognese style, with béchamel sauce, with just a tiny red sauce on the dish.
What is your vision for Annarella in the future?
We have a piano here and I’d like to see live music, a piano bar. I have plans to do a patio for outdoor dining, and I’d eventually like to have a garden for vegetables and herbs for our use in the kitchen.