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Putting his customers first, Luca Cecconi only gave his contractors two weeks to finish the job.
The co-owner of Tiramisu Ristorante Italiano at 5215 14th St. W. already had agreed to host a 30-person reservation on June 19.
There was no wiggle room, so the pressure was on.
The party went off without a hitch, Luca said, and he couldn’t be happier with the finished product.
“I don’t know how they did it but they did a good job,” he said.
The changes were relatively minor, but they add up to an enhanced dining experience.
Luca and his wife, Monica, decided to redo the floor, roof and the walls, which included getting rid of wood paneling and expanding the size of the dining area.
The latter change meant settling for a smaller kitchen, but Luca said that turned to be positive. It allowed the restaurant to toss its unused pizza oven.
“We had a problem with not having enough space for our guests and we had too much room in the kitchen,” Luca explained.
The extra dining room space gives the restaurant a more comfortable feel, even with two added tables. The lighting also has been improved and a rock wall along the end of the dining area has been added. The walls have also been adorned with decorations — copper plates, statues and paintings — from their previous homes in Italy.
While customers already have expressed satisfaction with the changes, the owners say they didn’t do it for guests.
“I think we did this more for us than the customers. It’s been very nice and we’re happier about the restaurant,” Luca said. “It changes the way we work, especially since we spend most of our day here.”
It doesn’t change the way they cook, though. The restaurant still specializes in authentic Italian cuisine, complete with homemade pasta, bread and a vast selection of Italian wines.
“This is food that comes from the heart,” said Monica, who serves as the restaurant’s head chef.
Monica and Luca married in Italy in 2014. Two days after the wedding, they traveled to Bradenton looking for a place to set up shop. It took them three months to find their current spot, and even then, they had to return to their country to apply for a visa.
Just two weeks after approval, they were back in Bradenton with an authentic Italian restaurant.
The couple remains committed to delivering an experience that closely resembles eating out in Italy. Monica works the kitchen every night, which isn’t a common characteristic of American restaurants.
“We can be compared to what we have in Italy,” Luca said. “Monica being in the kitchen makes a big difference. That consistency is important.”
But a smaller kitchen also means a smaller menu. Tiramisu decided to nix a few of the less-popular items but has introduced a list of daily specials to make up for the loss.
“That way, Monica can have more fun with meals and experiment to see what works,” Luca noted.
Menu items range from about $9 for an appetizer to around $18 for an entree with a side salad.
Tiramisu is open from 5-9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday for the summer.