West Dundee pizzeria to open Tuesday
The long-awaited second location of a Rockford pizzeria officially opens Tuesday in a prominent storefront in downtown West Dundee.
Owners of Woodfire Brick Oven Pizza purchased the building at 127 W. Main St. in the spring of 2018, months after the unexpected departure of Francesca's Campagna. Restaurateurs Joe and Anne D'Astice have spent more than a year remodeling the site and expanding the restaurant space into the adjacent retail store, formerly known as Fox & Filly.
Renovating the aging building took longer than expected, Joe D'Astice said, noting "a lot of work" went into transforming the previously narrow space into a bright, airy dining room. The restaurant also has a pizza bar and oven on display so patrons can watch the pizzas being made.
"It's a huge, huge difference from what it was," he said. "The remodeling turned out spectacular. It looks great, and it feels great."
The D'Astices started their business in 2010 as a mobile wood-fired oven, typically catering events such as graduation parties or offering late-night snacks at wedding receptions. The couple opened the first Woodfire restaurant in downtown Rockford five years later.
Francesca's ceased operations in West Dundee in late 2017, much to the surprise of village officials. But it wasn't long before several potential operators expressed interest in replacing the Italian restaurant.
Among them was Woodfire, an ideal and complementary concept for the downtown, especially with the owners' prior restaurant experience and willingness to invest in the site, Mayor Chris Nelson said.
"We fell in love with the location, the community, the area," D'Astice said. "It just seemed like a perfect fit."
Village officials also were pleased to see a new owner secured for the visually prominent building, which was in need of major improvements both on the first floor and in the second-floor residential space, Nelson said. To help offset those renovation costs, trustees last year approved offering a facade improvement grant, as well as a low-interest loan that can be paid off using half the restaurant's sales tax revenue for the next seven years.
"The D'Astice family put in a substantial amount of money to make sure the reconstructed space was not only good enough, but really exceeded all the expectations that we as a village had for the refurbishment of that location," Nelson said. "I do think the current owners ... really are the perfect owners for that space."
Woodfire held a soft opening during dinner hours Saturday. The pizzeria officially begins operating at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
The menu will be similar to the Rockford location, which serves pizzas, sandwiches, salads and assorted appetizers. The restaurant also makes handmade pastas -- a practice that will carry over to West Dundee once the equipment is delivered from Italy, D'Astice said.
Woodfire is expected to operate from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
"Everyone in the community has been very nice (and) very supportive so far. We got a lot of people (saying), 'I can't wait 'til you open,'" D'Astice said. "We're finally there."