Quartiere scheduled to open in late October in ex-Riazzi’s space in Tempe

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Post image for Quartiere scheduled to open in late October in ex-Riazzi’s space in Tempe

Yesterday MXSW broke the news that the just-closed Riazzi’s Italian Garden in Tempe would be replaced by a new restaurant called Quartiere. Today we have details.

Like Riazzi’s, which had operated for 72 years before closing earlier this week, Quartiere will be a neighborhood Italian restaurant.

New owner Erick Geryol first discovered Riazzi’s one day when he picked up his young kids from their school nearby.

‘‘I grew up with that type of cuisine (in Waukegan, Ill.),’’ he says. ‘‘I remember sitting with a friend at the bar at Riazzi’s and thinking, ‘What a great neighborhood place.’’’

When he recently heard the restaurant was for sale, and the best offer had been a low-ball bid from a dental office, he was interested.

‘‘Looking at new places is a bit of a hobby,’’ admits Geryol, who owns neighborhood sports bars Boulders on Broadway and Spokes on Southern in Tempe and Boulders on Southern in Mesa.

In this case, things worked out and the sale to Geryol now is all but complete, just awaiting some logistical matters like the removal of a cell tower from the property.

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Geryol considered gutting the 5,000-square-foot building on Mill Avenue, halfway between Broadway and Southern, but felt he didn’t have the time. He plans to reopen in just 10 weeks.

(Like most people, he was surprised by Riazzi’s owners’ decision to suddenly close before the sale was finalized. He is looking to find short-term jobs at his other restaurants for Riazzi’s employees.)

Instead of a complete overhaul, Geryol says he will focus on ‘‘floor and texture upgrades,’’ including a new bar, new tile, new booths, and new tables and chairs.

Another area of new emphasis will be Riazzi’s under-utilized garden patio with fireplace and (currently) non-working fountain.

Geryol, who has extensive experience cooking for Italian restaurants, will personally create a new menu, keeping dishes at the same $13-$14 price point.

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Quarteire, he says, will be a major departure from the sports bar/outdoors theme of his other restaurants. No walls of TVs. No long lists of craft beers (but some European imports instead).

The name change is necessary, he says, because Riazzi’s owners want to ‘‘retire’’ the original name.

Quartiere is Italian for ‘‘neighborhood.’’ It derives from the word quatro, or ‘‘fourth,’’ referencing the way Italian cities typically were divided into four regions.

Either way, it seems the perfect name for Geryol’s fourth neighborhood restaurant.

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