Sitting on the corner of Huffman Mill Road and South Church Street, diners will find the Italian word for “you are welcome” looming in large red letters. Prego’s has been serving up New York-style Italian food to the area for nearly 15 years now, constantly leaving customers saying “thank you.”
Don’t let the exterior of the restaurant fool you. The building shows remnants of what came before it, with a dilapidated and forgotten drive-thru lane sitting in the back of the parking lot. However, owner Albert Hernandez thinks that shows exactly how special the restaurant is.
“Italian restaurants from here compared to New York are completely different,” Hernandez said. “So that’s what we did. We wanted to bring a fine-dining experience to Burlington with some New York City flavor.”
Past the outside seating of Prego’s sits a well-furnished room decorated with white tablecloths and a bar. The cozy space provides a sense of comfort for many students. With nearly a fifth of Elon hailing from either New Jersey or New York, where Italian food is prevalent, Prego’s offers students a reminder of food from home.
Aside from making sauce to order and giving some Elon students a familiar experience, Hernandez said it’s the family atmosphere that keeps people coming back.
“We come to get to know the community,” Hernandez said. “We treat the customers like family instead of customers, that’s the big thing that sets us apart.”
The Trattoria suffered a loss when Albert’s father, Vincent, died in a car crash in 2019, leaving it up to him to manage the restaurant. Vincent came from New York City after working in several different restaurants in the Big Apple to manage his own place. Albert has done everything from bartending to managing in order to keep his father’s vision alive.
“He worked so hard to make a name for himself and he did,” Albert said of his father. “I want to keep it going for him so he lives on.”