Assistant Managing Editor
SPRINGFIELD Springfield's newest restaurant, Pazzo, is many things. It's an expansion and improvement on the former Carmela's restaurant, it's an investment in downtown Springfield's riverfront, it's an addition to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame complex, and it's an escape for local residents.
Prior to its official grand opening last week, Reminder Publications had a tour of the new facility and met up with two of Pazzo's three owners, Steve Degliuomini and Sal Mannino, who is also the executive chef. The third owner, Paul Astuto, is also Degliuomini's nephew.
Mannino explained that Pazzo is a fun name, derived from the Italian word for "crazy." And the menu is as authentically Italian as the name.
While not a complete departure from what he offered at Carmela's, Mannino pointed out that there will now be a children's menu. And, if customers can't find exactly what they want on the menu, which has a Sicilian-inspired emphasis, but which offers dishes representing all the regions of Italy, they can talk to Mannino himself. He said he can make any special order, and often did at Carmela's.
"I care for my customers," Mannino explained. "If you take our suggestion [on what to order], you're going to be satisfied." Degliuomini explained that there were a couple of drawbacks to the Carmela's location on Main Street in Springfield's South End.
Among the not-so-appealing features were the only 18 parking spots for the popular restaurant, and a 24-hour business close by with plenty of traffic.
"When the opportunity [to move to the Basketball Hall of Fame] arose, we couldn't turn it down," Degliuomini explained.
In addition to the vast available parking, Degliuomini explained that Pazzo's was able to take Carmela's original bar, but expand it. There is now a banquet room, which already has bookings; large, posh bathrooms; artwork galore; and real Venetian platered walls with warm Meditteranean colors.
Lisa Cignoli of Rosewood Consulting said she introduced Carmela's owners to the Springfield Riverfront Development Corporation and the Andy Crystal, property manager for the Hall of Fame. From there, she said, it was clear sailing.
Mannino and Degliuomini said last Thursday that they were very excited about Monday's grand opening. At that time, there was still work going on in the new space. Two giant mirrors were being hung on the back wall, reflecting the natural light that pours in through the front windows. Art work, featuring Degliuomini's pride and joy a signed collage of albums and photos from members of The Rat Pack such as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and others was being hung. The bar and open stainless steel kitchen were being assembled. And old customers and employees excited to get started in their new space dropped in.
The restaurant will officially open to the public March 29.
Degliuomini reflected that, while "new and improved," so to speak, Pazzo maintains the same ambience and warmth for which Carmela's was known.
Cignoli said about 50 new jobs were created with the new restaurant, and Degliuomini added that 99 percent of Carmela's staff transferred to Pazzo. Cignoli also pointed out that the owners made sure to hire almost all local vendors for everything from builders, electricians, painters, glass installers, heating and air conditioning, plumbing, and more.
Pazzo celebrated their ribbon cutting Monday at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. Kitchen hours beginning March 29 will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day, and the bar will be open until 2 a.m.