DINO & HARRY’S LONG-RUNNING BARTENDER MAXIMIZES HIS THEATRICAL TRAINING TO CREATE AWARD-WINNING EXPERIENCES, PLUS GREAT DRINKS, FOR HIS CUSTOMERS
BY GILDA ROGERS • PHOTOS BY TOM ZAPCIC
When it comes to iconic steakhouses with old-world charm, Dino & Harry’s, located in a building that dates back to the 1800s, adeptly mixes nostalgia and vintage details with great food and superior service a winning combination from the father-and-son team that founded this family owned establishment in 1991.
A loyal clientele, arriving from throughout the region and across the Hudson River, attests to this recipe for fine dining success that begins with a prime selection of steaks accompanied by an array of entrées, from pasta to seafood, to please every palate in Frank Sinatra’s hometown.
Behind the stately, hand-carved cherry wood bar in what was originally a longshoreman’s saloon, mixologist Stephen Aloi has been adding his special touch to entertaining guests for 12 years. at kind of longevity, according to restaurant manager Nick Megdanis, contributes to the restaurant’s magic. Most waitstaff have been employed here since the steakhouse, considered an institution and one of Hoboken’s best, opened.
“I actually graduated high school in 1991,” said Aloi, who, fresh after graduation, got his start in the restaurant business as a busboy at an Italian restaurant in Leonia. With ambitions to become an actor, Aloi was accepted into New York University’s revered Tisch School of the Arts. While in college he continued to learn the bar business from the ground up as a barback.
“That’s the assistant to the bartender washing glasses, getting the fruit,” he explained. “It was incredibly good money for a 19-year-old kid.” Aloi graduated from NYU with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in acting and was awarded “Outstanding Achievement” at the Stella Adler Conservatory.
“I found that it was the only thing that made me happy,” he said about acting. “I could disconnect from the world, the stress, and anxiety. It was an escape for me. I love the craft, and I love the process of developing a character.”
In Aloi’s dual role as actor by day and bartender by night, he continued to hone his craft in small productions on Broadway and in and around Jersey City while bartending at places like New York’s Denim & Diamonds. Aloi remembers the action-packed environment of the four floor club as a valuable training ground for a bartender. Life, however, redirected his thespian plans. Instead of stage or lm, his leading role became that of a husband and the father of two now teenage daughters and a 12-year-old son.
“I had to be there for my kids,” he said.
While acting was put on hold, Aloi was able to utilize his skills to engage with people as a bartender. “It’s true what they say; as a performer it’s always your chance to perform. The older I get find that it’s true. It’s the marriage of art and being present with clients and customers.”
The mixologist prides himself on having the Midas touch when it comes to making a good dirty vodka martini, the most popular cocktail at Dino & Harry’s. Aloi revealed his secret: “My martinis are special because I shake the hell out of it and make it as cold as possible. That’s what people love about my cocktails.”
Aloi reported the old fashioned is on the rise, tequila never goes out of style, and there’s been a resurgence of the Manhattan. Tried and true cosmopolitans remain popular, too.
DINO & HARRY’S
163 14th Street, Hoboken / 201.659.6202 / dinoandharrys.com