The dark wood, faded photographs and intimate lighting give an old world feel to Olazzo. It is exactly the kind of friendly, neighborhood place the Pietrobono brothers had in mind when they opened their second restaurant at 8235 Georgia Ave.
"It's an up and coming area, but we were also born and raised in Silver Spring. I thought it would be nice to pen a place where we grew up," said Roberto Pietrobono, a co-owner of Olazzo.
Pietrobono and his brother, Riccardo, grew up eating their mom's "excellent" cooking. Their parents, Iole and Renato, made the move from Italy to the U.S. permanent about 50 years ago. As a first generation Italian-American, Roberto gets a lot of satisfaction out of serving familiar cuisine to his customers.
"There is nothing like walking into a packed restaurant that is your own. That's a good feeling to have," said Pietrobono.
Roberto and Riccardo opened their first Olazzo in Bethesda a little more than 12 years ago. Riccardo had no formal training when he started cooking in their restaurant. Roberto took care of people stopping by the nine-table eatery on Norfolk Avenue.
"When we opened, it was such a small spot. We figured we would just build through word of mouth. We didn't even put a sign out for the first year," he said.
Olazzo did grow in size and popularity. The Silver Spring location opened in 2007, using many of the same recipes that originally came from family and Riccardo's experiments in the kitchen.
Pietrobono contributes part of the brothers' success to the popularity of such dishes as Frutti Di Mare (seafood with linguine), Penne with Meatballs and Fettucine Alfredo.
"The Fettucine Alfredo is the best in town," said Matthew Swift, a customer who lives in Baltimore City. "They serve good wine. The Shrimp Rosé, which I just had for the second time, is really good."
Swift has returned to Olazzo often for lunch and dinner. So has Rob Moren, the owner of a shop that is just a few doors away from the restaurant. Both patrons like the restaurant's rosé sauce with tomato, cream and herbs.
"The food is very good an authentic, and they have a very friendly and helpful staff over there," said Moren.
The third-generation watchmaker and jeweler should know what authentic is. Moren is half-Italian, and he favors Olazzo over places that serve what he calls "fast food" Italian.
"I go there for dinner, bring family and clients there. We have lunch quite a bit," said Moren, who is a big fan of Olazzo's lasagna.
Most of the appetizers on the restaurant's menu cost less than $10. The salads are $7 to $17, including large salads you can order with meatballs, grilled shrimp or chicken milanese. You will pay $9 to $12 for sandwiches on the lunch menu. Most of the entrees are priced from $13 to $18.
One of Olazzo's busiest nights is Tuesday. That is when you can get one of the 30 unique martinis for $5 or $6. The list includes such intriguing names as the Bada-Bing and Whiskey Rebel. Half price bottles of wine are available on Monday. You can also get $2.00 off on appetizers, glasses of wine and martinis from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Wednesday through Friday.
The two brothers recently completed renovations on the Bethesda location. They are now in the process of expanding Olazzo's catering service. A third restaurant is also a possibility, but it will not be another Olazzo.
Pietrobono does not want anyone to get the impression that he and and Riccardo are operating a chain establishment. In fact, Roberto just wants people leaving Olazzo to say "that they had a great meal, a good time and great service."
Olazzo, 8235 Georgia Ave., is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. You can call the Silver Spring restaurant at 301-588-2540 for more information.
Note: This is a restaurant profile, not a review. Opinions expressed do not represent the ideas of the writer or Patch.