Denver Italian Restaurant Won’t Be Closing After All – Sort Of
The Sannino family has run several different restaurants across the Denver area going back as far as the 1950s, since coming to the state of Colorado.
Jim Sannino, Sr. started with pizzerias - three of them - Jim's Pizzeria on Tejon, Paisan's Pizzeria on Colfax and Jim Sannino's Pizzeria on University Ave.
From there, the family opened "3 Sons" - an Italian restaurant in North Denver that was named for the three sons of the Sannino family. Tony, John and Jim, Jr. - Jimmy. It was there working in his father's restaurants that Jimmy Sannino learned to love the restaurant business and ran the place for forty years, until finally selling it in 2004.
Brothers Tony and John got out of the restaurant business completely, but Jimmy decided to pick up where his family left off - complete with the same, beloved Sannino family recipes - and open "Mama Sannino's" with his wife, Karen. They originally opened in Arvada, but moved to 38th Ave in Wheatridge, where the Italian favorite has been ever since.
Unfortunately, Jimmy Sannino passed away this past January. The family closed the restaurant immediately as they contemplated how they might save it and keep his dream spot going, but they haven't re-opened.
They haven't been able to come up with a solution - except to sell. Which they now have.
Westword has confirmed that a new owner will come in and take over what's already in place, though changing the name to Rossi's Italian Eatery, but without changing much else about the restaurant. At least not at first.
It has been purchased by Mike Rossi, who was a huge fan of the old Mama's restaurant, frequently dining there over the years. Rossi was a Denver police officer for 20 years and had always dreamed of owning a restaurant. Now he gets his chance.
It's clear how much a fan of the place he's been over time, as Mama Sannino's never had an official Facebook page, yet Rossi has found a way to post about it several times over the years and how much he loves it.
It's obviously bittersweet for the Sannino family that the restaurant will change hands, but if there were anyone to keep the traditions - and some of those Sannino family recipes - alive and well, it will be Rossi. He's already completed some renovations to the kitchen and promises to keep things familiar to customers of the old place. He's also begun planning to add some new menu items for when they open in April, like some new signature cocktails paying homage to Italian traditions - and the northside of Denver.
So while "Mama Sannino's" will be saying goodbye, Rossi's Italian Eatery will pick up right where Jimmy Sannino left off - the same way Jimmy himself did back in the day when 3 Sons closed and the new opportunity came.
You can follow along with the Rossi's journey to open the place on their Instagram page.