Even with dust flying and less than 48 hours to go before opening the doors to the new addition at Nazzaro’s Italian Cuisine, proprietors Rich Nazzaro and John Wirtz still welcomed us in and took a break from wielding hammers and directing workmen to talk. They explained that this year wasn’t the first time that the space next to the restaurant had become available, but they felt strongly that this year was the right time to grab the opportunity to expand. John said that business has been brisk and it looks as if there’s an economic uptick. Having been excellent tenants for the 13 years they’ve been in the Winn-Dixie Shopping Center, working out the arrangements to expand next door was relatively simple.
Now, Nazzaro’s boasts a beautiful new bar area with wood floors and stunning new lighting, creating a contemporary and casual feel, as well as a lovely outdoor patio with a brick enclosure and landscaping that call to mind a courtyard at a Tuscan villa. A new sign outside sets the tone for the fresh atmosphere inside that was guided by the decorative vision of Laurie Brunson Watson of Mary-Bryan Peyer Designs, but Rich assures us that the classic dishes and quality dining experience that Nazzaro’s faithful clientele have come to expect still remains.
Guests are now greeted by a hostess as they enter the restaurant through the bar. If you choose to stay in the bar area, sitting at the large sleek wood and glass bar or at one of the chic yet comfy seating areas, you can order off a new bar menu or the full restaurant menu. Some of the items on the bar menu include a risotto croquette, meatball sliders, or a Mediterranean twist on a bar classic: Italian Nachos with corn tortilla chips with sweet sausage marinara sauce, pepper jack cheese, diced tomato, red onion, kalamata olives, capers, and fresh basil drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Yum!
Rich says that having a fully-stocked bar with a wider selection of wines and beer also allows him to have full-time bartenders, now leaving servers (who previously mixed and served their own drinks) free to focus on giving their customers an outstanding dining experience. The more casual bar atmosphere should also help Nazzaro’s reach a wider range of clientele, appealing to working folks who want to stop in for Happy Hour drinks, girlfriends who want to go out and have cocktails and share a bite to eat, or couples who want to grab a bottle of wine and dessert. The bar will also have extended hours, so you don’t have to cut your fun short. With more upgrades planned for the dining area in the near future, Nazzaro’s is doing a great job adding modern style and sensibilities to a restaurant with ageless appeal.
Nazarro’s Italian Cuisine
196 Retreat Village
Mon-Sat 5-10pm; Sun 5-9pm