Italian eatery coming to city

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 24, 2005

Suffolk residents will be able to get a taste of Italy by summer’s end.

Mike Williams and Vance &uot;Boo&uot; McGhee, owners of Baron’s Pub, will be expanding downtown dining options this summer with the grand opening of a new eatery at the intersection of Commerce and East Washington streets.

The not-yet-named restaurant will be in a 7,000-square-foot, two-story storefront at 157 E. Washington St., near where work on the city’s urban revitalization project, the Fairgrounds, is about to begin.

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Diners will find a casual, family-oriented restaurant with traditional Italian fare: Oven-fired pizza, homemade breads and &uot;all the noodle&uot; dishes, said Williams.

&uot;We’ll keep serving the American-style of pizza at Baron’s,&uot; said McGhee. &uot;We will serve more authentic Italian pizza at the new restaurant.&uot;

The two partners plan to use 3,500-square-feet for the restaurant; the top floor is being made into two two-bedroom apartments to rent to the growing number of young people moving into downtown.

Contractors have gutted the inside of the building, baring original brick walls that Williams and McGhee plan to leave exposed. The kitchen – which will have a stone pizza oven as a focal point – will also be exposed to diners, McGhee said.

The two, who want their restaurant to be an eclectic addition to Suffolk’s revitalized downtown, plan to use loud, exciting colors.

&uot;We walk in here and try to visualize how we can transform the building,&uot; McGhee said. &uot;We want to create a little Bohemian scene around downtown Suffolk.&uot;

Work is also under way on a second Italian restaurant for downtown, a more upscale eatery that will be opening in the former Crystal Restaurant on West Washington Street.

&uot;Our restaurant is not going to be fancy but it will be good,&uot; Williams said. &uot;No doubt, we will serve some of the same dishes and have some of the same customers.

&uot;We’re looking forward to it.&uot;

McGhee agreed.

&uot;This is an extension of what we do,&uot; said McGhee. &uot;We’re chefs and cooks and this is another place to do what we do best.&uot;