GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Customers who step into the newly-renovated Racanelli's New York Italian might forget they're in Greenburgh.
The restaurant at 851 Central Ave., not to be confused with Racanelli's Pizza and Brew on Knollwood Road, will continue to stand at the same location like it has for the past 40 years — but is now sporting a new look. When original founder Martino Racanelli passed away two years ago, his three sons decided to give the restaurant an extensive makeover. The restaurant just re-opened its doors for business in December.
"We brainstormed with dad on what direction to take with the restaurant," said John Racanelli, CEO of Racanelli Development who led the renovation project. "The transformation is pretty crazy — people are freaking out. I tell them it's the same four walls, but people don't believe it."
While the dining room boasts a new, modern vibe of sleek tables and booths with a chic-looking bar, one look around the restaurant reminds customers of its family history. Old signs and logos from the original "Pizza and Brew" surround the walls, as do old pictures of Martino when he was young. The oven, which is more than 40 years old, remains in its original location, with familiar faces like pizza maker Tony Diaz still around to greet customers and show off his dough-twirling skills.
With brothers John, Martin and Alex partnering as owners-operators with hospitality consultant Nick Mautone, the four are pleased with the outcome.
"Most people are saying, 'Wow, this place is amazing. You've saved me a trip to Manhattan,'" Mautone said.
Besides hand-stretched, thin-crust pizza, Racanelli's offers pasta dishes and family-favorite "Martino and Sons' Sunday Sauce for Two," a four-meat platter named after their father that Rose Racanelli, his wife, used to make the brothers during their childhood. The team stuck to its New York-Italian name, serving only New York and Italian craft beers on tap, and a selection of New York and Italian white and red wines. The restaurant will also begin offering a brunch menu beginning on Jan. 27.
Racanelli's promises Italian originality with its new chef Patrizio D'Andrea, who moved to New York from Florence, Italy, eight years ago.
John Racanelli hopes the customers used to Racanelli's old walls — once complete with an ice cream bar — won't be threatened by the restaurant's new look.
"We have three generations of customers. It's a location with so much history," he said. "We're respecting its past, but have created a new prototype."