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DISH ON DINING: Verri's Italian Ristorante opens in old Mona Lisa spot

   The team at Verri’s Italian Ristorante includes Melissa, Tom, Sammie and Brittany Verri and Tom’s wife and the girls’ mom, Patti (not pictured). The team at Verri’s Italian Ristorante includes Melissa, Tom, Sammie and Brittany Verri and Tom’s wife and the girls’ mom, Patti (not pictured).

Although he was already plenty busy running Brooks Tavern with the help of his wife and daughters, Tom Verri still longed return to his roots serving Italian fare.

An effort to buy Renzo’s on Main Street had fallen through at the last minute. When one door closes, another opens. When a wine distributor told him that Mona Lisa owner Franco Bonaduce wanted to sell his Church Street restaurant and retire, Verri jumped at the chance. He bought the place and hired a contractor to modernize the intimate space.
After a thorough remodel, Verri reopened the dining spot last month as Verri’s Italian Ristorante, specializing in Italian food, of course, but also steaks and chops, wine and dessert.
“Basically, the restaurant is styled a lot after the restaurants I’d worked at growing up in New York City,” Verri says. “I was born in Little Italy in the Bronx so you see a lot of the New York flavor. And it came out I would say very accurate to the way I envisioned it.”
The menu features four antipasti choices ($10-14), Della Casa, Greek and Caesar salads ($10-12), nine pasta entrees including Ragu Di Carne, homemade lasagna and Fettucine Alfredo ($18-21), five veal options plus chicken, lamb and pork chops, shrimp and scallop dishes and a seafood stew over pasta. Pizza options are cheese with a choice of 12 toppings ($14 plus $2 per topping), a star-shaped pizza with ricotta-stuffed mini-calzone edges ($17) and Margherita ($15). Desserts include cannoli, homemade tiramisu, homemade gelato and New York cheesecake ($9-14).
It’s a family-run operation all the way, with daughters Melissa, Sammie and Britanny and his wife, Patti, all pitching in fulltime. With their help, Verri has plans to expand as tourism ramps up.
“We are planning a doing seventh day (they’re currently closed on Monday) and adding tables outside,” he says, “and hopefully in the summer or late spring we might try to do lunch.”

 

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Verri’s Italian Ristorante, 785 N. Church St., is open 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and 4-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reach Verri’s at 828-696-7858. It takes reservations by phone or in-person only.