Bar Italia’s patio, 13 Maryland Plaza, is finally back in operation and open for dinner service. Mengesha Yohannes—”chief of everything”— said that while he initiated curbside pickup shortly after the COVID 19 shutdown, he wasn’t in a hurry to reopen the outdoor dining area until he had thoroughly considered what the “near future would look like.”
Mengesha was preaching to the choir when he said, “This has been a worldwide disaster caused by a tiny little virus, and we are never going back to where we were before.”
“My plans reflect reduced capacity as well as fewer events and parties—that’s the reality,” Mengesha continued. “We’re using the side panels from the tent as partitions to socially-distance diners according to the new guidelines, which has reduced our seating to 1/3 of what it was.”
He added that another reason for the delay in reopening was that it took time to get the core staff “in the groove.”
When fall comes, the tent will be reassembled and used as before, although with fewer tables.
Mengesha jokingly said, when describing the single-use menus which promote the wearing of masks, “Maybe I should change the name of the restaurant to “Mask, Mask, Mask.” Maybe not. After 37 years in the CWE, the name Bar Italia conjures up many memorable meals and great times starting when Dan Gualdoni and Joe Pirone opened the espresso bar/cafe where Starbucks is now located (Mengesha became a partner in 1985, two years after it opened), and later at the current location with its beautiful patio which is truly magical on a summer’s night.
With reduced seating the best nights to stop by for dinner are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays & Sundays. Friday and Saturdays are busier. Reservations are available, but walk-ins are welcome.
Bar Italia, 13 Maryland Plaza, open from 4 p.m. to 9-9:30 p.m., 314-361-7010. Curbside pick up is available too.