Dan Di Cocco says the opening of a second dine-in Rondos Pizza Plus on Lambton Mall Road is his chance to serve Sarnia the Italian foods he loved as a kid.
Five years ago, he purchased the original Rondo’s Pizza Plus on Lakeshore Road in Bright’s Grove.
“That was an existing business that was already really successful,” said Di Cocco. “I didn’t want to change something that was already doing well.”
He and wife Kerry opened the second, take-out-only Rondo’s on Rosedale Avenue about 18 months ago to ensure there was enough room in the market for them to expand.
There are at least 28 pizzerias in Sarnia already.
Rondo’s on Rosedale was a huge success, said Di Cocco. “It was really a way to test demand. We did better than we had projected.”
The couple immediately began thinking about offering dine-in but it wasn’t possible in the small space they leased on Rosedale.
Then, a month ago, they were shown the former Gondola Trattoria at the corner of Lambton Mall Road and Exmouth Street. It was on the market with all the kitchen equipment, dishes, fixtures, and furniture, explains Kerry Di Cocco.
“It was the right spot for us at the right time and we signed the lease right away,” she said.
“This is exactly what we were looking for in order to offer a bigger menu and more of a dining experience,” said Dan.
Rondo’s on Rosedale closed on Sunday, Dec. 3, its two 1,300-pound stone pizza ovens were transferred to the new restaurant, and the doors opened at Rondo’s Pizza Plus on Lambton Mall Road Dec. 6.
The new restaurant – nicknamed Rondola’s – has applied for a liquor licence and is already serving up a full lunch and dinner menu in a 28-seat dining room. A new patio is planned for the spring.
The new location offers everything on the Bright’s Grove menu, including gourmet pizza. It also features Donato’s Pasta Bar, named for Dan’s father who has trained the cooks to prepare traditional family recipes.
“My parents are from Lazio in central Italy,” Dan said. “We’re introducing the sauces, the cold pressed olive oil and the mushrooms that area is known for.” In fact, it was during Kerry and Dan’s honeymoon to Italy this year that the couple came up with the idea for a more wide-ranging menu.
“We were travelling all over Lazio going to Michelin-ranked restaurants and began talking about bringing some of those dishes to our new restaurant,” Kerry said.
The pasta bar is open weekdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offers romaine salad, an antipasto skewer and a made-to-order hot pasta dish like garlic mushroom Pennoni Lisci or house pasta with Italian Roma tomato sauce. Lunch ranges from $8.99 to $14.99 depending on the pasta and meat choices.
The new location has a grill, something Rondo’s never had before, and offers options like lamb, steak and veal.
Pizza slices are available on-the-go ($3.50), as well as “Pizza- in-a-Napkin,” a square slice folded with cheese ($3.50) or with Italian prosciutto or mortadella sausage ($4.50).
“That’s typically how it’s served in Lazio,” Dan said.
The new Rondo’s Pizza Plus at 1200 Lambton Mall Rd. is open seven days a week. Take out, delivery, dine in and catering. Call 519-541-1693 and visit their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/RondosPizzaSarnia/
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