Il Rione Pizzeria, LLC set out to be a new pizzeria in the Gordon Square Neighborhood in 2017. Co-founders Brian Holleran and Brian Moss plans were to renovate a 1,500 square foot retail storefront at 1301 W. 65 th Street which had previously sat vacant. Until the 1950s, the building functioned as an old billiard hall and tavern with one apartment.
The partners requested a loan in the amount of $40,000 from the Neighborhood Retail Assistance Program to partially assist with the build-out of the vacant space, acquire furniture and fixtures, restaurant equipment, signage and soft costs. Total project costs were estimated to be $103,000. The project also included assisting with financing some exterior building improvements to include lighting, driveway and sidewalk repairs.
Il Rione now offers a “New York/New Jersey-style flatbread pizza” that the partners perfected over the previous few years prior to their 2017 grant opening. Their plan was to keep their menu simple with a variety of pizzas and salads accompanied by beer and wine. This was the first designated pizzeria in Gordon Square neighborhood. The partners say they chose the location because of its heritage. The pair left the 100- year old rafters and exposed-brick to showcase the building’s history. Even the name reflects this respect for heritage: “Rione” in Italian translates roughly to “Neighborhood.”
The pizzeria has been opened since late 2017, has been receiving great reviews and has established a dedicated following of patrons. The project helped to create an additional four new full time jobs for the City as well as renovating and bringing life back to a building that had been vacant for years.