Fine dining, white tablecloths and Cucinare Italiano will return to 310 Wells Avenue South this Sunday with the opening of Marianna.
After three years of building a clientele at Vino Ristorante Italiano on South Third Street, Santiago Potenciano dreamt of expanding his restaurant’s footprint.
Late last year Potenciano shared this vision with some of his best customers, including frequent diner Denny Dochnahl. It was then that the two struck a deal to move Potenciano's kitchen from its former cozy 2,000-square-foot historic bungalow to Dochnahl’s 3,400-square-foot restaurant space at 310 Wells Avenue South.
“This place was meant to be an Italian restaurant,” Dochnahl said Thursday while standing in the newly renovated space.
Large black slate tiles have replaced carpet in the bar, several interior walls were lowered to open up the space, and a fresh coat of paint radiates light into the large dining room. The brightly colored blown glass hanging lights remain, but the hundreds of hand-blown glass spheres in the windows — a trademark of Armondo’s former Italian restaurant — are gone.
“We want it to be it’s own place,” Dochnahl said.
“I can’t wait to get it going,” Potenciano said of Marianna. He’s already received a call for reservations. Potenciano will run the restaurant with his partners and mentors Salvatore Lembo and Rosenda Ruiz.
Potenciano began his career as a bus boy at Lembo’s Bellevue restaurant Firenze, said Valentina Lembo, Salvatore’s daughter. He then began serving until he worked his way into the kitchen as chef before taking on his very own restaurant, Vino Ristorante Italiano.
Valentina is helping with the opening of Potenciano’s new restaurant and manages Pizzeria Guido, named after her grandfather. Marianna is the name of her grandmother, she said.
Marianna’s signature dish will be made from her grandmother’s recipe, ‘Farfalle alla Marianna,” a bowtie pasta (farfalla meaning butterfly in Italian) with a light cream sauce, prosciutto, yellow bell peppers and jalapeños.
Marianna’s menu will include Tuscan-style pizzas in addition to a variety of pasta dishes. Wine, beer and specialty Italian cocktails will be available from the bar.
Sunday’s soft opening will run from 1-10 p.m. at Marianna, 310 Wells Ave. S. Call the restaurant at (425) 271-7042 for more information.