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Romeo’s to bring Italian fare to Decatur

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com · 340-2395

Latin worlds collide July 23, in what Enrique Salcido hopes will result in a successful Italian restaurant.

Salcido is opening Romeo’s, a casual dining eatery in the restaurant formerly known as Princeton’s.

The opening ends a 13-month speculation about what would replace Decatur’s first casual dining restaurant. It also aims to fill the city’s longtime desire for Italian food on the scale of Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill.

As the owner’s name suggests, Salcido is Hispanic. His family owns four Mexican restaurants: Camino Real and Maria Bonita in Decatur, Las Vias in Hartselle and Tequila Azul in Huntsville.

Though both Spanish and Italian languages derived from Latin, it leads to the question: What does Mexican food have in common with Italian?

Nothing, Salcido said, other than they are the family’s two favorite types of food.

“We know about Italian food as much as we know about Mexican food,” he said. “That’s what we’ve always liked to cook besides Mexican food.”

The menu will include items such as shrimp scampi, chicken marsala, steak florentine and spaghetti bolognese. The menu intentionally resembles entrees patrons would recognize at Olive Garden and Macaroni Grill, Salcido said.

He hopes he’ll lure a loyal lunch crowd with daily $6.99 specials such as chicken alfredo and chicken parmesana. Each day will offer three
specials that include a bottomless salad, bread and soup.

Decatur officials have courted Italian restaurants, namely Olive Garden, for years to fill a gastronomic vacancy.

Salcido said he’s aware of that need, but doesn’t think that guarantees success for his nearly 300-seat restaurant.

“We do think it will mean a lot of interest at the beginning,” he said. “We’re expecting a lot of people to come here and give us a try.”

The opening occurs as Giovanni’s in Hartselle closes and moves to Athens. Owners of the Italian restaurant cited lack of alcohol sales as a key reason they couldn’t stay in business in Hartselle, a dry city.

Romeo’s has a liquor license and opens with a wine list of 30 bottles, including a number of Italian imports, said head bartender Donnie Terry.

Some of the higher end imports include Silverado Cabernet, Cakebread Chardonnay, Steele Merlot and Strada Basket Chianti. Prices will range from $4 to $12 for a glass and $20 to $100 for a bottle.

Romeo’s will employ about 40 people, the same as Princeton’s when it closed in June 2006 after a 19-year run.

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