The following article is a paid Community News Advertising Feature

For those of us that have lived in the Mercer/Monmouth County area, one of the long held traditions of summer is taking a family trip to the Jersey Shore. And for many, getting there often involves driving through the historic town of Allentown, a community nestled near several major highways, including the NJ Turnpike, Route 195 and Route 130. It was one such trip to the shore that gave birth to a treasured landmark in Allentown: La Piazza Ristorante, located in the heart of Allentown at 11 Church St.

You see Jerry LoPresti, current owner and proprietor of La Piazza, and his family would often go to vacation in Long Beach Island. On one of those trips, in 1998, his father Nino, owner of Mannino’s Italian restaurant and Pennington Pizza, noticed a for-sale sign on the abandoned Hope Fire Company firehouse at 11 Church St. while sitting in shore traffic. Intrigued by the location and its potential, Nino began exploring the possibility of buying the property and establishing a restaurant there, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Over the ensuing 20 years, La Piazza Ristorante has become a mainstay for Allentown residents, people in the surrounding communities, and for those who are fortunate enough to visit or travel through or near Allentown.

Combining fine Italian cuisine with small town hospitality, Jerry and his staff at La Piazza Ristorante have built a reputation of caring and committed service to their customers and to the community. That commitment can be seen in La Piazza Ristorante’s involvement and support of a myriad of local organizations, groups and civic institutions, including Allentown Schools and their students. Jerry and the entire La Piazza family have led efforts that help to support student activities and the athletic teams associated with the schools, be it through sponsorship, fundraising efforts or in providing a venue and/or food for events and celebrations. These efforts have helped to create a unique bond between La Piazza and those that they serve.

But if you want to understand what La Piazza represents to the people who have come to know it, one need only look at customers who aren’t even from the U.S., let alone Allentown. Unbeknownst to Jerry, a family from Canada that travels to North Carolina each year discovered La Piazza on one of their trips down the NJ Turnpike and ever since, have made stopping at La Piazza an annual tradition. Recently, their journey happened to coincide with La Piazza closing so Jerry and his staff could take their summer vacations. Disappointed in missing their annual visit to La Piazza, the family sent Jerry a message asking if La Piazza would be open on their return, which it was. Sure enough, the family was able to continue its tradition on its way back north.

Given La Piazza’s success, and the connection it’s made with people far and wide, it’s not surprising that Jerry sees the future being more of the same. Maintaining a tradition of sharing great food, superior hospitality and good will with La Piazza’s current, and future customers, a tradition born in a traffic jam on the way to the Jersey Shore.