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Ciccio Cali cuts ribbon with help of Riverview Chamber

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image Ciccio Cali restaurateurs Ryan McGough, left, and Matthew Lanza, right, pose with chef Ryan Mitchell. Photo Kevin Brady

Having a nearby arts festival dropping thousands of potential customers practically on its doorstep didn't hurt the grand opening of the Riverview restaurant.

By Kevin Brady

With perfect weather and a nearby arts festival dropping thousands of potential customers near his doorstep, Matthew Lanza couldn’t have picked a much better day for a ribbon cutting at Ciccio Cali in Riverview’s Winthrop Town Centre on March 22.

But if the visitors to the Winthrop Arts Festival had their first taste of the restaurant’s fare, it will be consistency of service and quality that will keep them coming back, said Lanza, a Ciccio’s partner.

“Everyone makes mistakes, but we are persistent and really make sure the quality is there,” he said. “We are also always looking for great, innovative people who can bring something to the table because, at the end of the day, if you don’t have good people working for you, it doesn’t matter. We, however, have a really good team now, and that takes a lot of pressure off me and my partners,” said Lanza, who grew up in the business with his parents running several New York City restaurants.

The Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce conducted the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which included live music, a magician and a children’s bounce house.

Part of the Ciccio Restaurant Group, this is the third Ciccio Cali in the Bay area, with similar restaurants in South Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Offering a health-infused approach to dining out, with bowls, wraps and stir-fry options, the 3,000-square-foot restaurant also features dairy- or gluten-free food, along with traditional fare such as macaroni and cheese, pizza and quesadillas. Pets even get a bowl of water when they sit on the patio.

“We pride ourselves on healthy, well-balanced meals,” Lanza said.

While restaurants often seem to come and go before the paint has a chance to dry on their walls, Lanza, with 25 years in the business, believes he has the recipe for success.

He credits chef Ryan Mitchell, a former employee of the renowned Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, with helping Ciccio Cali maintain high standards throughout the company’s kitchens.

“This job has given me a lot of freedom on how to execute things on the line, and they have also given me free range for kitchen design, hiring and training, so it’s been a lot of fun for me,” said Mitchell, who has been working in restaurants for 12 years. “It’s fun every day, and not even like coming to work.”

With three locations in the Bay area, consistency is key in the kitchen, Mitchell said. “It’s very important customers get the same experience at each location, and all the food tastes the same.”

Ciccio Cali’s is open Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; also a Saturday and Sunday brunch from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., a Saturday dinner from 3 to 9:30 p.m., and Sunday dinner from 3 to 9 p.m.

For more information on Ciccio Cali, 11230 Sullivan St., call 813-436-3840 or visit cicciorestaurantgroup.com.

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