Ally and Randy Forrester: Deep roots, modern twist

Ally Forrester ’07 and her husband, Chef Randy Forrester ’05, opened Osteria Radici in Allentown, N.J. last fall. The quaint 24-seat restaurant has already garnered rave reviews for its take on modern Italian cuisine.

Osteria Radici was named one of New Jersey Monthly’s Best New Restaurants, and a James Beard Semifinalist for Best New Restaurant.

While Randy and Ally appreciate the recognition, earning critical acclaim has never been their primary focus. “Our goal is to push forward modern, Italian gastronomy the way it has been allowed to evolve in Italy,” said Randy. “The recognition does redeem the hard work we have put into expanding the mindsets and palates of our guests.”

Randy began working in local restaurants when he was 15 years old. As a participant in the Peddie Summer Signature Experience, he spent time with prestigious Italian Chef Scott Conant, and later with Fabio Trabocchi. It was in these Manhattan kitchens that Randy learned to blend traditional Italian flavors with modern technique. He’s been cooking in highly-rated kitchens ever since.

Osteria Radici exterior

Osteria Radici in Allentown was named one of New Jersey Monthly's Best New Restaurants.

Ally, a former teacher, manages the front of the house at Osteria Radici and oversees most “paperwork aspects” of the business. When she wasn’t in the classroom, Ally was traveling throughout Italy with Randy. They studied Michelin-starred restaurants and rustic osterias in preparation for their long-term plan to open an Italian restaurant back home. 

One of their most memorable meals ever was on a trip to Campania.

“Ally and I dined at a restaurant across from a run-down soccer stadium that appeared to be a roadside shack,” Randy recalled. “We were fairly certain we had the wrong address, but in the end were amazed that we had found one of the most charming restaurants. The hospitality, attention to detail and technique-driven food captivated us. We think of that experience often.”

Randy and Ally met at Peddie, dated briefly, and reconnected in the Boston area during college (Ally attended Wellesley College; Randy went to Boston University). Both are sentimental about their time at Peddie and credit the school with having a positive influence on their careers. “Discipline and time management are the pillars of the hospitality industry,” said Randy. “Peddie gave me a strong foundation in both.”

“When you run a small restaurant or a small business of any type, you have to wear many, many hats,” added Ally. “Peddie has prepared us for that.”