By Barry Scher
Launching a business venture, whether one has experience or not, can be a difficult undertaking and the road to the ribbon-cutting ceremony is filled with many twists, turns, and potholes. Throw into the mix opening a new business in an almost post-pandemic period and it’s understandable why it’s important to have dotted the I’s and crossed all the T’s.
Such is the case for Michele and Gennaro DiMeo who unveiled their latest restaurant venture, Tuscan Prime Italian Chophouse and Dolce Bar, in January at the Annapolis Town Center just off Riva Road.
The DiMeos are the owners and operators of Monte Restaurant Development Group, headquartered in Annapolis and the management company for their corporate owned restaurants. The duo owns and operates 10 Squisito Pizza and Pasta restaurants in Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Delaware, and Washington, D.C., with five currently in development regionally. International expansion is planned for 2023.
The new restaurant officially opened to the public March 1.
“Yes, opening in the dead of winter on the tail-end of the pandemic was not an easy task faced with many COVID supply challenges, but we were so excited about adding Tuscan Prime to our restaurant group, so we just forged ahead,” said Michele.
Tuscan Prime’s extensive menu has a lot of choices by design but that sets the new upscale eatery apart from other restaurants. Tuscan Prime focuses on steaks, chops, seafood, and pasta, with sides like asparagus Parmesan, truffle fries and wild sautéed mushrooms. The attractive interior décor, including a 20-foot petrified olive tree, also features a dramatic raw bar with oysters and clams on the half shell as well as interesting, creative craft cocktails such as a drink called Tuscan Affair, a mix of gin, limoncello and blood orange foam.
“We opened, according to our plan, primarily by word-of-mouth in January for our soft training opening, but it wasn’t long before positive reviews began popping up in local Annapolis social media and we were swamped with customers looking to give Tuscan Prime a try.”
The restaurant has been so popular that it has added brunch to the weekend schedule, starting April 1, Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Happy Hour launched earlier this month from Monday to Thursday, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. A new outdoor patio has recently been set in place just in time for the spring weather.
Penny Walstrum, a Parole resident who lives within walking distance of Tuscan Prime, said, “I went there for the first time recently with four other friends and we all ordered different entrees on purpose so we could compare dishes. The food was really good, and the server was very friendly and attentive. What more could we ask for?”
Learn more at Tuscanprime.com or call 443-572-4677 for reservations.