Last month, when we floated the rumor that the Torrisi Italian Specialties team was planning a project on the same block as Lupa, maybe even next door, a couple of tipsters wrote in to note that the premise was right but that address was wrong. They said the plans were in fact to take over Who Goes There vet Rocco Ristorante, the old timer red sauce joint across the street...which sounds about right in the Torrisi wheelhouse.
And, lo and behold, the restaurant's website now includes an irresistible little tease: a 16 second video showing the signage at Torrisi Italian Specialties, their soon to open restaurant Parm, and Rocco. Nothing else. Today partner Jeff Zalaznick confirms the news, noting that "Rich, Mario and I will be taking the space over next year and plan to open something in Fall 2012."
This is incredibly exciting news for fans of Torrisi and its owners Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone. One person who isn't so thrilled: Antonio DeSilva, the owner of 90 year-old Rocco. DeSilva tells Eater he heard the Torrisi guys have been in negotiations with his landlord, "but I don't know if they'll be willing to pay that money." And he says he's not going down easy.
Rocco's lease is up at the end of 2011, now less than two months away, and to renew, the landlord is demanding $18,000 in rent, a hefty jump from the $8,000 DeSilva pays now. He says, "It's too much for what we could afford. I can afford a little more but $18,000 and I'm working for him. We're fighting it." DeSilva adds that if it comes to a certain point, he'll take his landlord, who he has been dealing with since he bought the restaurant 20 years ago, to court.