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Everybody's Business

Decor changes, but it's still Italian

Make way for Aldo's. It will have updated Italian food, but the decor will be '60s Italian B-movie kitsch.

By MICHAEL CANNING and AMY SCHERZER
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 20, 2002


ITALIAN ENDURANCE: Over 40 years the names have changed -- Maria's, Gianni's, Il Gabiano. But the food has always been Italian at the Bel Mar Shores/South Westshore neighborhood restaurant.

New owners Mike Leavy and Mark Caragiulo aren't about to change that.

But all the '70s-era lattice work? That had to go.

The better to make way for Aldo's Italian, opening tentatively by the first week of January. Aside from the de-latticing, remodeling efforts include expanding the dining room onto the old patio and installing a bar. Caragiulo, whose family has run Caragiulo's restaurant in Sarasota for 15 years, wants to infuse the decor with '60s Italian B-movie kitsch.

He plans to put up vintage posters for such movies as Bing Ragazzi, Fellini's Roma and Eight and a Half, and Ce Pazzo Pazzo Pazzo Pazzo Mondo (It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World).

Caragiulo added that the menu will reflect the current trend away from tomato sauce-heavy Italian staples. Braised beef ravioli with Tuscan sauce, picatta style monkfish with orange and tarragon, personal pizzas and maple mascarpone cheesecake will be among the choices.

Who's Aldo? That's the nickname for Caragiulo's brother Mike, who will manage the restaurant.

A PHOENIX FOR TGH: That's phoenix, as in rising from the ashes, not Arizona.

Fire gutted the former Tampa General Hospital Family Care Center at 701 W Kennedy Blvd. in June. The clinic's patient load, roughly 80 per day, and staff had to be transferred to the Family Care Center on N 30th Street.

That cozy situation was alleviated with Monday's opening of a new Family Care Center at 2501 W Kennedy (just west of Armenia), which was formerly a Cigna clinic. The facility mainly sees patients by appointment. Heading up the staff are two internists and one internist/pediatrician.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

BAY TO BAY BOUTIQUE: With her experience as a sales manager for the former Jacobson's at Old Hyde Park Village and as a personal shopper for local celebrities, Valerie Nicole figures it's time.

Her Valerie Nicole Boutique opens Saturday at 3211 Bay to Bay Blvd., between Esperanza and Ferdinand avenues. Upscale women's fashions from Italian and French designers, handbags, shoes and jewelry will fill the 900-square-foot store. A small selection of oil paintings and signed prints will also be offered.

The former antique shop has been transformed by Nicole's Italian country motif, all Wilmington Tan walls and scalloped archway trim.

Nicole wants the labels she'll carry to remain a surprise. But she says some are exclusive to her in the area. Remember, people paid her to have taste.

To celebrate the opening there will be champagne and hors d'oeuvres. Boutique gift certificates will be awarded as door prizes. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

PALM BANK PLANTED: A new bank that would cater to specific types of South Tampa customers has received conditional approval from the state division of banking.

The former site of SouthTrust Bank branch at the southeast corner of Dale Mabry Highway and De Leon Street wears the banner, "Future home of Palm Bank."

President and chief executive officer Chris Anderson says the bank will seek owner-managed businesses, residential builders who build in South Tampa, and other South Tampa professionals as its customer base. Anderson is a 20-year veteran of South Tampa banking, much of it spent at Bank of Tampa. Palm's chief operating officer Mark Lopez is also a Bank of Tampa veteran.

Palm is organizing with Sub-S tax status, meaning it would share profits with shareholders after profitability is achieved. So far, Anderson says, Palm has raised $9-million in capital from 39 investors. The goal is $10-million from 50 investors. FDIC approval for Palm is pending.

Meanwhile, Anderson says the building at 612 S Dale Mabry is undergoing interior renovations to accommodate more staffers. The drive-through will remain.

-- Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call 226-3382, or e-mail citytimes@sptimes.com .

THE FIND: Kit Cat Klock

Start 2003 on time with a Cheshire grin. The Kit Cat Klock, an American icon, tick-tocks the minutes with a roll of the eyes and a wag of the tail. Stan Good Clocks sells this battery-operated model in five colors and a jeweled version for $45 and up. Good has sold and repaired clocks for 26 years at 107 S MacDill Ave. Open noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 876-2707.

-- AMY SCHERZER

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