"It brings the Old World back to Ybor," says Lenny Cristino.
The brothers had been searching for a long while for the right location, he says, and opted to renovate a vacant site at 1701 Eighth Avenue. Previously the building was operated as Spurs, a country bar with line dancing, and Play, a bar and live music venue.
The restaurant has an approximately 12-member staff.
The Cristinos hired award-winning architect Elliott Wheeler, owner of Elliott Wheeler Architect
to give the restaurant a warm, Old World feel, and oversee installation of the brick coal-fired oven. Owner Lenny Cristino says the oven is one-of-a-kind cooking feature in Florida.
"That was a big challenge," says Wheeler who is based in Ybor City. "It's not a typical architectural feature."
It had to meet the design requirements of the Cristinos as well as city code, he says.
Wheeler primarily does design work for the hospitality industry and hotels including the Radisson Aquatic Barbados and Courtyard Marriott Savannah.
In addition to its use as bars, Wheeler says the building's history goes back decades, and also has seen used as offices and probably a convenience store
In addition to indoor seating, Cristino's has an outdoor patio and bar.
Cristino's menu features homemade pastas including Italian traditional dishes of ravioli and lasagna as well as a homemade vodka sauce for their penne vodka dish. Cold and hot paninis, chicken wings and salads also are available. Coal-oven pizzas are a specialty again made from scratch with homemade ingredients including tomato sauce and mozzarella. For dessert, there are homemade cheesecakes, cannoli and gelato slowed churn at the restaurant.
Cristino's also provides catering services.
Sources: Lenny Cristino, Cristino's; Architect Elliott Wheeler