Growing up, Peter Colombo’s family held a deep appreciation for fresh and wholesome meals. His childhood home was a place where the notion of convenience or shortcuts in food preparation was practically unheard of.
His mother “had to shop every day and buy everything fresh” to cook for him, his six siblings and his father, according to Colombo. In that household, the philosophy was clear: there were no shortcuts when it came to food. This upbringing left a lasting mark on Colombo, influencing him when he opened Alfonso’s Italian Restaurant.
“My father never ate anything frozen in his life; that’s the tradition,” Colombo says. “I think what’s carried out in Alfonso’s is that we still prepare everything fresh. Nothing is frozen. And there’s nothing prepackaged, so it’s all done from scratch.”
Back in 1981, Colombo landed a job at the Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas. After a year working there, he couldn’t help but notice the scarcity of Italian dining options in the area. At age 26, he began working on a new venture — Alfonso’s Italian Restaurant.
The traditional home-cooked meals his family ate were sweeter, but after coming to Dallas, he realized Texans’ tastes differed.
“Everything is sweet and has a lot of sugar,” Colombo says. “And when I came to Dallas, I realized they wanted everything spicy.”
Alfonso’s prides itself on every dish seeing the oven for the first time when it’s ordered, which Colombo says separates them from other restaurants.
“There’s no microwaving anything and I think that’s what makes us a little bit different,” Colombo says. “It takes a little longer, but I think the quality is a lot better than something sitting at a table all day long.”
After nine years in Casa Linda Plaza, the restaurant moved to Lake Highlands Village. Since the opening of the restaurant, the menu has broadened with the help of Alfonso’s longtime chef.
“It initially started as a pizza place. They started with the traditional hand-tossed and thin crust styles, adding Detroit-style pizza to the menu during the pandemic. Later, they expanded the menu to include Italian favorites like chicken Parmesan and lasagna.
Even though Colombo has “pulled away” from day-to-day operations, he still manages operations behind the scenes. The restaurant recently celebrated its 41st anniversary in October. Colombo credits his staff for the hard work.
“I got good people that have been with me for a very long time. Which is kind of unheard of today,” Colombo says. “And that’s one of the secrets of being able to have a business run pretty well.”