New Italian restaurant coming to Crystal Lake promises ‘the real deal’

Florio’s Italian expected to open June 1

Lake in the Hills resident Dominic Florio is ready to step out of retirement and make his mark on the Crystal Lake restaurant scene at age 73.

“I decided one more time. I can only play so much golf, and I love the business,” he said.

He is opening a fine-dining Italian restaurant off Randall Road called Florio’s Italian. The restaurant, at 1540 Carlemont Drive, will have dishes inspired by southern Italy including seafood, pasta, chicken and veal. Florio expects the restaurant to open June 1.

“I’ve got stuff you see in everyday restaurants and stuff that you don’t, that’s my own,” he said.

Florio’s Italian will be heavily inspired by the first restaurant Florio owned under the same name in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood in the 1980s, he said. He is even getting “the old band back together” by working again with his architect and chef who helped him create his first restaurant. Chef Renato Marmolino, who is from Siena, Italy, will help with the menu.

“You’ve got the real deal coming,” Florio said.

The Crystal Lake location will seat about 20 people at the bar and about 90 people at tables. There will be three separate sections called Roma, Bari and Cozensa – all places in Italy where Florio’s grandparents are from.

The location previously was office space, so the place still needs a lot of work done to create a kitchen and dining area, he said.

Florio applied for the Crystal Lake Commercial Facade Improvement Grant and requested $10,000 to help with construction expenses. The city council approved the request unanimously earlier this month.

“The single most common comment that I get from the citizen from Crystal Lake is, ‘When are we going to get some more independent restaurants?’” Mayor Haig Haleblian said at a recent city council meeting.

Florio has loved to cook and create his own recipes since he was a teenager, he said. He plans to have his chicken dish with spinach, red peppers and crusty bread as one of the staple items on the menu.

“People come to my restaurant to eat my food,” he said. “What I think (are) mistakes people make nowadays opening restaurants, especially chains, they cater to customers … but they’re making the same stuff.”

After he sold the original Florio’s restaurant in Chicago in the 1990s, he went into the car dealership business until he retired. Now he’s back to the restaurant business, which he said is his true love. It’s in his blood, he said, and he enjoys seeing people eating and appreciating his food.

“It’s the way that I make certain things that are different,” he said. “And I think they’ll like it.”

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