An effort to bring together cross-state Italian restaurants in a Northland casino worked — for awhile.
But nearly six years after opening in Harrah’s North Kansas City, Mike Garozzo & Charlie Gitto’s Italian Restaurant has closed.
“We decided not to renew our lease,” said Mike Garozzo, a partner in the restaurant. “It wasn’t going anywhere. When the Hollywood Casino opened it really hurt our business.”
The $411 million Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway opened in early 2012 in Kansas City, Kan.
Charlie Gitto, who owns Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill in the famous Italian neighborhood in St. Louis, already had a restaurant in the St. Louis Harrah’s. For the Kansas City location he partnered with Garozzo of Garozzo’s Ristorante.
They decked out the large space with poster-sized black-and-white glam photos of famous Italian women such as Sophia Loren, Gwen Stefani and Madonna, and opened in mid-2008.
The menu included dishes from both men’s restaurants — Baked Clams Oreganato, several kinds of spiedini, chicken parmesan, and old-fashioned baked spaghetti with meatballs baked with Provel cheese (a St. Louis favored blend of cheddar, Swiss and provolone).
While the restaurant opened as Mike & Charlie’s Italian Restaurant, the partners later added their last names to the logo to promote their ties to two of Missouri’s favorite Italian restaurants.
“Some people wanted Garozzo’s, some people wanted Charlie Gitto’s. But people liked the food,” Garozzo said.
Gitto was traveling and couldn’t be reached for comment on the closing.