Back in early 2006, Wichita took its lasagna for granted.
Then, the tragic Italian exodus began.
It all started in July of 2006, when owners of Angelo’s — home of bubbly lasagna and square pizza slices — closed their popular restaurant after 46 years in business. Six months later, Macaroni Grill decided not to renew its lease in Bradley Fair, packing up its delicious rosemary foccaccia and penne rustica and leaving town for good.
The last Italian Garden closed in 2009, then earlier this year, Johnny Carino’s, which had operated at 3213 N. Toben Road since 2004, closed its Wichita store.
But during the past few months, Wichita has been experiencing a bit of an Italian renaissance.
Suddenly, Italian restaurants are opening across town. Melad Stephan just opened Luca Italian Eatery a few weeks ago in Old Town Square, and two other local chefs will open their new Italian eateries this summer.
Following is a look at the about-to-open, recently-opened and classic Italian restaurants Wichita has to offer.
Bocconcini, 4811 E. Central: Local chef and Bocco Deli owner Nathan Toubia is hard at work on his new Italian restaurant, which he hopes to have open mid-July in the old Sugar Sisters space.
Italian Bistro, 155 N. Market: Kas Zendeli, who owns Bravo’s Italiani in Valley Center (see below), plans to open a new Italian eatery in the former Restaurant 155 space in downtown Wichita this summer.
Luca Italian Kitchen, 301 N. Mead, 316-262-3232: Stephan hired Italian chef Gianluca Sciagata to help him with Luca, which opened two weeks ago in the former Uptown Bistro. Find upscale Italian food such as gnocchi, caprese salads and veal and steak dishes. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.
Bella Vita Bistro, 120 N. West St., 316-941-4500: Lory Wooley employed the talents of her son-in-law chef Adrian Prud Homme DeLodder when she opened Bella Vita Bistro in early 2010. The food is upscale, and the interior is intimate and warm. It’s open 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
DeFazio’s, 2706 Amidon, 316-838-0709: Pietro DeFazio and family have operated this Wichita favorite since 1982. Its known for its pizza and pasta dishes and is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.
Sweet Basil, 2424 N. Woodlawn, 316-651-0123: This cozy Italian restaurant has operated in Wichita since 1989. It’s open with a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 2:30 Sundays. Dinner is from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 4:30 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Marchello’s, 3107 S. Seneca, 316-522-6662: Marchello’s is a hidden Italian gem that’s opened in Wichita in 1996, serving delicious homemade pizza and a long menu of pasta dishes. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays.
Carrabba’s, 3409 Rock Road, 316-315-0777: Carrabba’s is a chain but is run like a local eatery by proprietor Joe Parten. It opened in 2002 and serves delicious pasta, steak, chicken and seafood dishes from 4 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 4 to 11 p.m. Fridays; noon to 11 p.m. Saturdays; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.
Savute's, 3303 N. Broadway, 316-838-0455: Savute's has operated in Wichita for 67 years, making it one of the oldest restaurants in the city. Diners love its steaks, spaghetti and meatballs and chicken scaloppini. It's open from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.
WORTH THE DRIVE
Luciano’s, 216 W. Main, Mulvane, 316-777-0045: One of the most popular Italian restaurants in the Wichita area is Luciano’s in Mulvane. Opened by Luciano Mottola in 2005, it features Tuscan-style Italian cuisine in a warm, inviting setting. Its open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.
Bravo’s Italiani, 218 W. Main St., Valley Center, 316-755-9966: Zendeli’s Valley Center restaurant opened on Halloween 2009 and specializes in pasta, tirimisu and New York Style pizza. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.