The late Ronnie Grisanti’s legacy will live on at Ronnie Grisanti’s, a new restaurant slated to open in early May at 6150 Poplar Avenue, No. 122 in the Regalia Shopping Center.
“Before he passed, he and I talked about all the good times when he was a kid and he was with his dad,” said Ronnie’s son, chef/restaurateur Judd Grisanti. “When we were all together on Poplar Avenue and the good times. And how nice it was for he and I to be back together again.
“My dad always wanted to do it one more time. Which means have a big restaurant and be back on Poplar again. Where he could meet and greet his guests and serve his food.”
Judd left the restaurant business because of his health, but returned to work with his dad in 2016 at the Ronnie Grisanti’s restaurant in Sheffield Antiques Mall. That restaurant will continue to operate, Judd said.
“You know how much joy I had spending time here with my dad in the restaurant business trying to get my kitchen legs back, trying to help him at the same time? And in just enjoying each other, talking about cooking and family?
“Not that I ever fell out of love with it, but it was like the passion of cooking and the restaurant business just overwhelmed me again. And I just found that after being gone for a couple of years, this is what I love to do.”
Judd fell in love with the new restaurant's location, which was where the old Mikasa Japan restaurant was located when his children were little. “I used to live down the street from there. Isabella Grisanti started eating sushi when she was two years old. He (owner Katsu Kanzaki) would make her little bitty sushi bites, miniature sushi rolls. I was very comfortable in that spot and that’s how I wanted to feel.”
The new Ronnie Grisanti’s will be open serving lunch and dinner seven days a week. They’ll serve “a lot of the Grisanti stuff, of course. A lot of stuff you’ll recognize. And quite a few new items on the menu, fresh homemade pastas. I’m putting in a pizza oven. I also plan on putting in a raw seafood bar with stone crab claws and oysters and stuff like that.”
As for the decor, Judd said, “The dining room I want to look very, very cozy. Quite a few booths. Private dining rooms. A few banquettes. The bar will be very warm and inviting.”
The employees might look familiar, Judd said. “Some of the old names and faces that used to work for Grisanti’s are coming back on board. Some of the old kitchen guys are coming back on board."
His cousin, David Grisanti, youngest son of the late restaurateur “Big John” Grisanti, will be kitchen manager. “He and I were standing on Coke cases back in the day when they were wooden making ravioli in the upstairs of the restaurant on Airways. He and I have been cooking since we were both seven years old.”
Judd wanted to make it clear the restaurant is not all about Judd Grisanti. “It’s not about me. It’s not about David Grisanti. It’s not about Ronnie. It’s not about Elfo. It’s not about Big John. It’s about all of them. It’s about the heritage. The legacy of the Grisanti’s. That’s what this restaurant is about.”