Mediterranean Meets Main Street: A Review by “Blue Ridge Now”
Restaurant Brings Mediterranean Cuisine to Main Street
A high-profile designer of Mediterranean-style Miami homes is focusing his architectural skills on a corner building in downtown Hendersonville, priming it to house his other passion — authentic Italian cuisine.
Renzo Maietto hails from Verbania, Italy, and in 1977 relocated to Miami, where he designed and built lavish homes like the $3.9 million Casa Florence mansion.
Throughout his 30-year building career, Maietto has maintained his family’s tradition of preparing Italian meals. Since falling in love with Western North Carolina in 2006, Maietto is bringing traditional Italian to 502 N. Main St. with Renzo’s Ristorante.
“I got so affectionate with the city, I cannot move,” he said, adding that the region’s mountains, lakes and seasons are what he’d been missing since he was born.
Maietto is leasing the two-story, 5,000-square-foot building that formerly housed Mrs. G and Me restaurant, and completely revamping its interior.
“Practically nothing of the old remains,” he said.
The bar, main seating area and kitchen will be located downstairs, and the upper floor will house private rooms for events – including one with a working fireplace.
Marietto plans to open the restaurant in the next six weeks.
“It’s going to be the best Italian restaurant you can imagine,” he said, explaining that he won’t be serving the heavy, New York-style Italian, but rather the true Mediterranean cuisine of north, central and south Italy.
He’ll also be serving wines from Italian vineyards that don’t usually export in bulk, since he visits his homeland frequently.
“I had this passion since I was 6 years old,” Maietto said, when he began helping his grandmother in the kitchen of the restaurant where she worked, and was nicknamed “the knob” since he did the job of knobs on electrical stoves, increasing and decreasing heat in the restaurant’s coal stove.
Picking up tips from his grandmother, Maietto said he learned “the flavor from the past,” which he said can’t be taught in culinary school.
Maietto will serve as the master chef at Renzo’s Ristorante, and plans to create authentic recipes using the freshest Henderson County produce.
“We’ll integrate all the local farming into Italian cuisine,” Maietto said.
Renzo’s Ristorante (502 N. Main St.) is open for dinner 5-10pm Tuesdays through Sundays; closed Mondays. To make reservations, call 828-551-7766 or go to www.opentable.com. See the menu here. Read the full review here.