Salute is holding strong in Hartford, and also heading to the suburbs. The decade-old Italian restaurant on Trumbull Street is opening a second Salute, in Rocky Hill this summer.
The new location will also be called Salute, with a similar decor and menu, says the restaurant’s co-owner Andrew Rizzo. “It will have the same colors, the same warm Tuscan feel. Seventy or 75% of our menu will be the same in Rocky Hill as it is in Hartford.
“The only real difference,” Rizzo says, “is in the logo. Instead of one wine glass, there will be two.”
The Rocky Hill location, at 377 Cromwell Ave. (the former site of the Pazzo Cafe) is even the same size as the Hartford Salute: 4200 square feet, which should allow seating for 120 patrons. “We just got the architectural plans and are about to submit them to the town,” Rizzo says.
“We’ll open sometime in the summertime, maybe in June or July, depending on where the world’s at. There’s not a definite opening date.”
Rizzo co-owns Salute with Jimmy Cosgrove and chef Dave Caudill. They had all worked together previously at the long-gone Hot Tomatoes.
“For restaurants, your draw downtown right now is basically yourself,” Rizzo says, noting the lack of events at places like The Bushnell, the XL Center or other venues that would ordinarily be bringing in customers to local eateries. “We’re fortunate. We’re surviving.”
Salute marks its 11th anniversary in Hartford this month. “We’re not going anywhere in Hartford. Hartford is in our blood.”
Holding steady downtown led to a renewed interest in expanding to other towns. “We’d been looking over the past three or four years, but nothing struck our fancy,” Rizzo says. “Then we looked at Rocky Hill and thought “Hey! This is too good to be true. There are so many great small businesses along Route 3. There are a lot of customers.”
“I grew up in the south end of Hartford, when there were all these great places along Franklin Avenue,” Rizzo reminisces. “I feel like Route 3 is becoming a mini Franklin Avenue.”
He says the mayor of Rocky Hill, Lisa J. Marotta, has already reached out to welcome Salute.
Now that Rocky Hill is a reality, is Salute looking to expand further? “It’s always a possibility,” Rizzo says. “If I was doing this by myself, I wouldn’t even consider it. But we have three hard-working owners and a great staff.
“We know it’s a struggle. But we are really excited.”
Christopher Arnott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.