Lori Brown · Nov 16, 2017 · 4 min read
IL Ritorno announced earlier this summer plans to expand their existing space to double the size. Originally they planned to close for just a few weeks with hopes to be done by the end of September. Hurricane Irma, however, had her own agenda. The restaurant had to close for the hurricane and then decided to just stay closed until the renovation was complete.
Chef David Benstock and his wife, Erica, invited us in today for an exclusive tour of the new space. As any restauranteur downtown will tell you, there is always more red tape than initially expected when opening a new restaurant or doing a complete renovation. And IL Ritorno ran into some of this as well, pushing the timeline out to December for completion. At this point, they are hoping for opening around the first or second week of December. They already have ten parties booked for December and are holding the contractors accountable for completion dates. All is running smoothly and activity is abundant inside.
There are many new features of the restaurant to discuss. First there is the new Chef's Bar which will look into the open kitchen. Guests will dine here on a six to eight course "chef's choice" dinner of the night and have a front row seat to watch meal preparation at its finest. Each course will be served directly to you from the kitchen. To reserve a spot at the Chef's Bar, you purchase your reservation online, paying in advance for your seat. Your space is reserved for the entire night as this is meant to be a two to three hour dining experience. You may choose a wine pairing to accompany your meal or choose to order a cocktail or two from their new full liquor bar.
Both bars will have plugs near every seat for cell phone charging.
Once you walk past the bar and to the right of the kitchen is another dining area which is a bit more private than the front area. The design helps to make the space feel more intimate than just a big open room and will help cut down on noise giving diners a more enjoyable experience.
The plan is to add to the existing tile flooring and run it throughout the rest of the space, as they were able to order the exact flooring to match.
Those of you who remember the original IL Ritorno space, know that there was just one unisex bathroom and almost always a wait. Not anymore, there will now be two unisex bathrooms in an alcove behind the second dining space. I know I am excited about this! Before there was really no where to stand to wait that was not in the way.
To the right of the bathrooms, there will be an intimate private dining room that can seat up to 14. It will have its own sound system separate from the restaurant to accommodate music preference and cut down on noise. Separation from the restaurant will be by a sliding barn style door. This room can be reserved with a $250 deposit that will apply towards the bill at the end of the night. So essentially it is a wash, but guarantees the space for you.
In the very back of the restaurant there is another private dining room for larger parties up to 36 people. It will also have its own sound system and will be closed off by a regular door for maximum privacy. This space is quite nice and carries through the exposed brick from the front of the restaurant. This room can be reserved for a $250 fee. That is a fee for the space and does not apply towards any food or drink.
IL Ritorno is currently accepting reservations for parties for the upcoming holiday season and vow that they will be open and ready to go!
They are almost completely staffed for the opening. They do have four positions for the back of the house to fill: two line cooks and two prep cooks, but the front of the house is good to go and they retained almost all of their former employees.
Personally I am thrilled to see the progress. It doesn't look pretty now, but it can certainly give you an idea of what to expect. IL Ritorno is my favorite restaurant in town and I have always made no bones about that and now it will be bigger and better! And I can order my favorite cocktails. Congratulations to Chef David, Erica and the whole IL Ritorno team!
Check out the blueprints below for a better overview. The front door is at the bottom of the picture.
Northern Italian food with a modern flair.