Richard Barone and Steven Catanzaro have a rather unique recipe.
Barone owns Barone Construction of North Providence, so he is well versed in renovating businesses. Catanzaro owns Catanzaro Food Products in Pawtucket, which produces Italian foods with deep Sicilian roots.
Combining their talents, the pair has opened Ciara Restaurant and Lounge. Once located on Smith Street in North Providence, the restaurant is now situated in the plaza at 678 Killingly Street in Johnston. In their new location, Barone and Catanzaro have a larger bar area, nearly double the dining space and extra room for entertainment and special events.
The new Ciara Restaurant and Lounge also afforded Barone an opportunity to showcase his construction skills. He transformed the building into a 3,200-square foot establishment that features an L-shaped 21-seat bar with a granite top and three other dining areas, one of which includes an electric fireplace and seating for up to 40 people – an area perfect for a private party.
Barone installed a wooden floor in one section that’s used for both dining and entertainment, like something else that will be featured tonight when Ciara holds its first-ever La Vigilia, or the famous “feast of the seven fishes” that’s commonplace in Italian-American homes on Christmas Eve.
In their new venture, Barone manages the front of the restaurant. He oversees the bar, entertainment and booking of private parties. With his longtime expertise in the food industry, Catanzaro’s place is in the kitchen.
Together, they have come up with a way to please people’s palates and pocketbooks.
For example, there are early bird specials that offer 15 percent off the entire menu from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Ciara also offers an “All You can Eat Pasta Night” every Wednesday for $4.95. And if diners want to make their meal chicken or veal Parmesan, they can do so for either $4.95 or $5.95.
It was the Pasta Night, in fact, that keeps Dennis Parrillo coming back to Ciara to try other dishes and recipes that Steven Catanzaro’s kitchen is becoming known for in just a short time since the move to Johnston.
“I’m an eater,” said Parrillo, who lives nearby on Wilson Avenue. “I can’t finish this pasta plate. I dare someone to try and get a second helping.”
Friday is known as “Seafood Night” and Chef Catanzaro creates appetizers like seafood zuppa ($8.95) scrod scampi and capellini and tuna ($12.95), and of course, fish and chips and fried clams.
Ciara also features a variety of appetizers, like stuffed Portobello mushrooms, bruschetta cannelloni, stuffed quahogs and beef teriyaki. There are grilled pizzas, sandwiches, salads, pasta and that Saturday Special known as “Prime Rib Night.”
Ciara is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, beginning at 4:30 p.m., but the restaurant has also become a spot for Ladies Night that’s held every Tuesday and features $5 martinis.
“The pear-flavored martini is excellent,” said Mindy Bailey during a post-dinner conversation with Catanzaro.
Though Catanzaro was once the fire chief in North Providence, he has been in the food industry for years. He opened the original Catanzaro’s Pizza and has always enjoyed cooking.
“I learned from the old-timers,” he said. “I learned from my grandmother, my mother ... when you grow up in an Italian household, you can’t help but learn the old-school way of cooking. That’s what made their food always taste so good.”
Ciara Restaurant & Lounge is located at 678 Killingly Street in Johnston. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 4:30 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Credit cards are accepted and the building is handicapped accessible. For private parties or information, call 354-8800.