New mural at Shelton restaurant tells chef's life story

Artist and craftsman Tom Masaryk works on a contemporary mural for Il Palio's dining room in Shelton using images from executive chef Margherita Aloi's life story.
Artist and craftsman Tom Masaryk works on a contemporary mural for Il Palio’s dining room in Shelton using images from executive chef Margherita Aloi’s life story.

Not all guests at Il Palio Ristorante have the opportunity to become personally acquainted with executive chef and owner, Margherita Aloi.

Most days, there is little time to socialize, since Aloi is busy in the restaurant’s kitchen creating new recipes, making dough for the daily homemade pastas, and working to make each dish aesthetically appealing.

Now, through the unveiling of a new dining room painting that features art representing key aspects of her past and present, she aspires to connect more intimately with Il Palio’s customers.

Grew up in Piedmont region of Italy

Using acrylic paints and glazes, artist and craftsman Thomas Masaryk has weaved Aloi’s biographical narrative — including images from the small town of Tucci, in the Piedmont region of Italy where she grew up — into a contemporary mural.

More than 150 personal photographs provided the inspiration for Masaryk’s design. Images of Aloi’s homeland, including an old vineyard and tiny church, are blended alongside significant people in her present-day life.

“Margherita remains very connected to her Italian roots,” said Masaryk, a Stratford resident. “My vision was to bring all of the different parts of her story together.”

Some of Aloi’s favorite proverbs for living, mantras that she grew up hearing her parents recite, are included. These include, “L’abito non fa il monaco” (“The robe doesn’t make the monk”) and “L’erba voglio cresce solo nelgiardino del Re” (“The grass ‘I want’ grows only in the king’s garden.”).

Began cooking at a young age in Italy

During her childhood, Aloi was influenced by her father, Aloi Luigi Giovanni, a winemaker and huntsman, as well as Agostina Pessiva, a cook. She recalls learning regional Italian cuisine by her mother’s side as they prepared large quantities of food for members of her father’s hunt club.

“We entertained a lot at our house,” Aloi said. “I loved being with people back then and I still do today. Building relationships is important to me, and one of the reasons I chose to work in this profession.”

Recruited to U.S. by restaurateur

After studying as a teenager at the Culinary Institute of Barolo, Aloi was recruited by restaurateur Pino Luongo, owner of Le Madri Restaurant in New York City. When she arrived in New York at the age of 18, Aloi spoke little English.

But by her mid-20s, she was named executive chef — and became the eventual owner — of Arezzo Ristorante in New York. During this time, she was recognized by Crain’s New York Business for its “40 Under 40” list of top metropolitan professionals.

Before coming to Il Palio in Shelton in 2010, Aloi owned and operated Aloi Restaurant in New Canaan.

Il Palio hours

Il Palio Ristorante, 5 Corporate Drive in Shelton, is open for lunch on weekdays from 11:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., and dinner on Monday to Saturday from 5:30 to 9:15 p.m. For information, call Il Palio at 203-944-0770, go to, or follow the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.