Ron Fatigate thinks about making pizza the same way many people think about riding bicycles: it is something he will never forget how to do.
So when Fatigate decided to get back into the food industry after spending nearly 20 years in law enforcement in Mount Vernon and Westchester, he wasn’t worried. Before jumping back right into his own place, though, he decided to take a quick refresher by working in a pizzeria in Piermont.
“The guy there said, ‘You really think you remember how to make a pie after 20 years?’ and I had no doubts,” Fatigate said. “It’s something I’ll always remember.”
After about four or five months there, Fatigate decided to go out on his own, and after looking at a few locations, decided on the one at 89 East Central Avenue in Pearl River.
“I can walk to work,” said Fatigate, who moved to Pearl River 19 years ago. “I thought this place had a really welcoming atmosphere.”
Before going into law enforcement, Fatigate owned a pizzeria in Mount Vernon, and said it was something he was interesting in going back into. He opened Raffaele's on Central April 22, and runs it along with his wife Joann. Their two children -- Jessica, 18, and Ryan, 17 -- work there, as well, along with other local kids who either attend Pearl River High School or graduated from the school.
“I think that’s been part of our success so far,” Fatigate said. “I live here, and so when we opened, we had these big crowds and we were doing was telling friends and neighbors that we were opening.”
He said all the ingredients are fresh and nothing is pre-made. He also makes some Italian favorites, such as rice balls and stromboli, and when Lent starts in February, they’re going to sell a lot of fish.
But, of course, as a pizzeria, the real draw is the pizza.
“I pride myself on making real New York-style pizza, like you’d find in the Bronx,” he said. “We have a lot of people come in and say our pizza reminds them of the kind they used to get as a kid.”
Fatigate said the key to his pizza is that the crust isn’t too thick, but he wouldn’t describe it as thin-crust either. He also said he feels a lot of places over-spice their sauce, which he said he’s cautious not to do.
“And I’m not afraid to use cheese,” he said.
He said his most popular slice is the chicken bacon ranch. It’s so popular, in fact, he said a delivery person from another local pizzeria recently stopped in to pick one up. While on a delivery.
But beyond rival delivery people, Fatigate said the community has been very supportive so far.
“I just want to thank the community for the success of our business so far,” he said. “We’re a local business with local people working here, and it’s great that so many people have been supportive.”
He also added that he hopes to remain at that location for a long time.
“It’s not work for me, even if I’m working 12 or 13 hours a day, it’s fun,” he said. “The minute it stops being fun and starts being work, that’s when I’ll know it’s time to stop.
Raffaele's on Central is open Monday-Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Raffaele's is one of the options in our current poll of the best pizza places in Pearl River and Nanuet.