It has been over a year since Jesse Issa’s Tonino’s restaurant closed after a 25 year run located where Reisterstown Road ( route 140) veers off west to Westminister and Hanover Road begins on historic Reisterstown’s Main Street byway. Tonino’s was Mediterranean cuisine, lots of pastas and pizza – with a heavy slant to Italian American. Two brothers, Brian and Larry Leonardi have taken over the location and if all bodes well for them, plan to open Ristorante Firenze, an “authentic Italian” restaurant at 2 Hanover Road.
The upscale casual Ristorante Firenze will offer a diverse lunch and dinner menu based on the regional Italian cuisine of Florence. They promise a stylish bar/lounge where one can sink into comfortable armchairs facing a fireplace and of course, wide-screen television sets, the accoutrement du jour for any bar along with craft cocktails, a premium wine list and beers both draft and bottled.
Carrying on the Italian theme one can expect custom lighting from Murano, Italy – known for their glass work, the warm tones that reflect Tuscany along with natural materials. The 3,000 square foot restaurant which will feature 100 seat dining is undergoing both interior and exterior renovations with interior design by Rita St. Clair Associates. Rear parking and entrance to Ristorante Firenze are also getting the Italian facelift.
“Our research shows that the northwest Baltimore County and Carroll County regions remain underserved by restaurants that are adaptable to support diverse occasions including business meetings, casual meals and special celebrations,” said Brian Leonardi. “Ristorante Firenze has been designed to fill this niche with a family-operated Tuscan dining experience utilizing recipes handed down for generations and reflective of our Little Italy roots.” Those roots go as far back as the brothers being bus boys, servers and cooks in their uncle’s restaurant; Velleggia’s, then their own Casa Di Pasta eateries in Belvedere Square and Columbia.