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    Italian restaurant moves into green house

    A Chicago restaurateur and his partners will open Cucina Siciliana in downtown Tarpon.

    By KATHERINE GAZELLA, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published June 6, 2002

    TARPON SPRINGS -- Anthony Giovenco was driving along Tarpon Avenue while on vacation a few months ago when the old, brightly colored house caught his eye.

    Seeing that the building was for lease, the Chicago restaurateur decided it was time to move to Tarpon Springs and open a restaurant.

    "It will be a place where you'll be comfortable, more or less like you're going to someone's house to eat," he said of the family atmosphere he plans for Cucina Siciliana. "Very authentic."

    Giovenco and Stefano Gemmellaro are two of the partners who own the restaurant in the building they lease from Rick Glass and Steve Nagel. Giovenco is a chef who has worked at his family's restaurants in and near Chicago, including Spuntino Pizza in Park Ridge, which he co-owned.

    He hopes to open the restaurant early next month.

    The house, 310 E Tarpon Ave., is more than a century old. It once was a private residence and later became a series of restaurants and an antique store. The restaurants included Bathtub Ginny's, the Parsley Patch Cafe and Melanie's, which was run by folk singer Melanie.

    The house also has been a series of colors, including pink, yellow and a bright lime green that led some residents to call it the "green monster." When Glass and his partner bought it, they had it repainted a more subdued green.

    "I'm grateful for the change in paint," City Commissioner Beverley Billiris said Tuesday night as commissioners approved a request for beer and wine to be served at the restaurant.

    Giovenco, who has been in the restaurant business since 1972, has been commuting between Tarpon Springs and Chicago. He plans to look for a place to live locally.

    The restaurant will serve individual pizzas and Southern Italian cuisine, including Alfredo and veal dishes, he said. It will be a good addition to the other restaurants downtown, which include a Mexican restaurant and an Irish pub, he said.

    "We'll be the Italians," he said.

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