Oldies But Goodies

These Raleigh restaurants know what it takes to keep diners coming back for years.

BY CARLA TURCHETTI
BANNER PHOTO BY DAVIES PHOTOGRAPHY

photo by @raleighfoodpics

Lilly’s Pizza
Since 1993

1813 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh
Lilly’s Pizza began as a carryout or delivery-only pizza place in 1993. Three musicians decided to try their hand at pizza making, took over a biker bar in Raleigh’s Five Points neighborhood, and named the whole place after one of their pet dogs. Customers started to bring their own lawn chairs and eat their pizza outside the building, and eventually an inside dining room was introduced.  Lilly’s is known for its commitment to locally-sourced, organic and all-natural ingredients. The whole-wheat flour in the pizza dough comes from a mill in Graham, North Carolina. Most of the vegetables are certified organic from farms in Rocky Ford and Wendell, North Carolina. The options for vegan and vegetarians are plentiful.
     Lilly’s now has a second location in Durham. Be sure to take a look at the walls, while your pizza is in the oven, no matter which location you visit – both restaurants provide space for local artisans to display and sell their original works.

Casa Carbone
Since 1984

6019 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh
Casa Carbone has been serving up classic Italian fare in its location in the Oak Park Shopping Center in Raleigh since 1984. It has always been a family-run business since it was founded by John and Jean Carbone, who had previously operated the Villa Capri restaurant, along with their daughter Maria Carbone House and her husband, Michael. They believe the secret to longevity begins with the food. The food at Casa Carbone is comforting Italian fare that has origins in both Naples and Sicily, the two places where Maria House’s parents came from.

The Peddler Steakhouse
Since 1969

6005 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh
The Oak Park Shopping Center in Raleigh is also home to The Peddler Steakhouse, which opened its doors in 1969. It’s still owned by its original owner, Gale Barefoot, and daughter Emily Barefoot, who manages the daily operation, says the restaurant hasn’t changed its focus since first opening the door.
     “We have stayed the course,” says Emily. “We have added seafood, like fresh salmon, and our salad bar has also evolved with customer taste. Things like artichoke hearts that probably weren’t that popular twenty years ago, we have evolved in that sense; but our menu has stayed a classic steakhouse menu.”
    And prime rib is still the signature dish.
     “There are so many options now and so many dining concepts out there that maybe being kind of a classic steakhouse makes us a little bit different these days,” Emily says.
     Now there are three locations, and The Peddler is still a family-run business in a family-owned shopping center. And Emily says that makes all the difference.
     “We are a family-owned restaurant. My dad is here 48 years, I’m here, my husband works here two nights a week cooking, my cousin cooks, my uncle is the prime rib guy. Even outside of our family we have a server whose daughter works here and her cousin works here. We are like our own little family. If you’re not actual family, we are a self-made family. We have loyal employees and loyal customers.”

photo by @raelighfoodpics

Caffé Luna
Since 1996

136 E. Hargett Street, Raleigh
Caffé Luna’s owner, Parker Kennedy, returned to his hometown of Raleigh to open the Italian restaurant of his dreams. Twenty years in the wine industry made him an expert in Italian cuisine, Italian wine, and even the Italian language.  He knew the city was ready for his style of Italian cuisine with a Tuscan flair, and Caffé Luna opened in 1996 in one of downtown Raleigh’s historic buildings.
     “Growing up as a boy in Raleigh, I well remembered the glory days of downtown, and knew from living in Manhattan for many years how quickly an area could evolve into a dining destination,” Kennedy says. “The national trend was back to the center city, and this trend has been my friend.  The fabulous physical space of the Montague building with its high ceilings and giant windows was also a big factor in my decision.”
     Caffé Luna is an elegant and breezy space with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing light into the space. The walls are covered with artwork by Kennedy’s wife, Nicole White Kennedy. And what comes out of the kitchen has created a legion of loyal Luna followers.
     “We are so grateful to the wonderful folks who have supported Caffé Luna these many years,” Kennedy says. “Many of them started eating with us as kids in grade school, then joined us for prom and later celebrated their weddings with us! Over the years it has been a remarkable pleasure to be part of so many wonderful family evenings and great events.”
     The doors have been open since 1996 and Kennedy likes to keep the menu fresh and updated.
    “Many of our folks have one favorite dish that they order every time they dine with us, but our chef always has exciting specials that change with the season and lots of our friends always order the special,” Kennedy says.