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Retired Denver police officer Mike Rossi is making the leap to restaurant entrepreneurship, but he’ll be armed with a seasoned staff and site. In mid-April, Rossi’s Italian Eatery will open with a name change and not much different from its former incarnation as Mama Sannino’s at 5800 W. 38th Ave. in Wheat Ridge.
“When I left the police department I started driving school (businesses) in Colorado, but I’ve always wanted to own a restaurant,” Rossi wrote in an email to What Now Denver. “When the opportunity presented itself I couldn’t pass it up.”
For the past 10 years, Jimmy and Karen Sannino operated Mama Sannino’s in Wheat Ridge. Per Westword, the family founded the Italian restaurant in Arvada in 2006. This was the continuation of a Sannino family dining legacy dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. Sadly, Jimmy Sannino passed away this past January and his family chose to pass down this food heritage to Rossi. The new restaurateur is very familiar with the restaurant’s offerings and atmosphere having frequented the location many times over the years. Rossi will retain not only the Sannino charm, but most of the former menu and the person in charge of the secret red sauce.
“Chef Helen Marzano has been around the Italian community cooking for several Italian organizations and her own catering business,” Rossi wrote. “The food will be the norm for an Italian restaurant, with some added flare and a delicious cocktail and wine menu.”
In addition to drinks, Rossi aims to add pizza to the menu at some point as well. Depending on the transition of the eatery’s liquor license and other permitting requirements, Rossi aspires to open the new, old space in mid-April.