Alta Irpinia Is a Not-So-Traditional Pizzeria and Deli in Suffern

A new salumeria-slash-pizza place in Suffern aims to introduce patrons to authentic, wood-fired cuisine, one pie at a time.

Lafayette Avenue in downtown Suffern is home to many traditional pizza-by-the-slice joints. But if you’re looking for something more unique—like a Neapolitan-style pie topped with truffle mortadella and pistachio pesto or prosciutto and pickled eggplant—stop into Alta Irpinia, a deli, pizzeria, and salumeria that recently opened on the block. “I want to be the place where people can try something new or something familiar done differently with the best ingredients I can get,” says owner Angelo Competiello, who also serves up sandwiches, and prepared foods made in his wood-fired oven. “This is like my playground.”

Alta Irpinia

The childhood reference isn’t surprising, since Competiello spent his working in his father’s gourmet grocery store, AS Fine Foods in Thornwood (Westchester). By the time he was a teenager, he was making sausage and cheeses and learning the craft of a butcher. At 25, he had his own AS Fine Foods in Wyckoff, New Jersey, where he became known for selling a slew of cured meats, prepared foods and specialty items, including his handmade mozzarella. (He estimates that he made 25,000 pounds of the cheese a year.)

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mozzarella

In 2020, he sold the store to concentrate on his flourishing catering business, and began traveling and consulting with Italian brands like BelGioioso and Dececco. He even found time to appear on the Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay,” where he bested the celebrity chef with his wild boar ragu over polenta. He also started experimenting with making pizza, installing a wood-fire oven in his house. “I would work all day and then come home and make pizza until 2 or 3 a.m.,” says Competiello. “I missed being in the kitchen just messing around and I really wanted a place where I could feed people.”

So when a former Thai restaurant became available for rent in Suffern, he jumped on it and called his new venture Alta Irpinia, after the mountainous region in Italy where his father hails from. “Suffern kind of reminds me of where my father grew up. The downtown has an old-school feel surrounded by mountains. I love that you can just grab a pie or a rice ball and walk to the movie theater.” (Alta Irpirnia is in walking distance of the famed Lafayette Theater, which recently celebrated its 100th birthday.)

Alta Irpinia is named after a mountainous region in Italy where Competiello’s father grew up.

The interior of the shop is small—only a couple of standing tables—so it has more of a grab-and-go vibe, whether you’re picking up wood-fired chicken and veggies for dinner, a baciata (two rounds of dough baked side by side) stuffed with toppings and then melded together into a panini on steroids, or a jar of tomatoes harvested in volcanic Italian soil. Obviously, you can’t miss the pizza, from the porchetta pie to the drunken Regina with pancetta and vodka sauce.

pizza oven

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Competiello plans to offer pasta- and mozzarella-making classes and a Sunday supper club. “Home cooking is our core,” explains Competiello. “People will say to me, ‘This is how my grandmother made this,’ and that means the world to me.”

Alta Irpinia
57 Lafayette Avenue, Suffern
845.504.5142
Visit website

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