20 de septiembre de 2016

EMPRENDEDOR Causa sensación nuevo restaurant italiano en Rio Rico’

Pizza e Vino

Nogales, Arizona .-  Both just 22 years old, the owners of Rio Rico’s newest Italian restaurant are realizing a goal they dreamed up more than a decade ago when they met in sixth grade at Desert Shadows Middle School in Nogales. “We’ve always wanted to open something together,” said Pablo Moreno, who co-owns the newly opened Pizza e Vino restaurant with best friend Juan Herrera. Now business partners, Moreno and Herrera are running Pizza e Vino in the Rio Rico Shopping Center on Yavapai Drive, where they hope to bring more diversity to the food scene in this part of the county. “You need a little bit more variety,” said Moreno, who said he sometimes has a hard time finding a place to eat in Rio Rico, especially at night. The two opened the restaurant with help from Moreno’s mother, Irma Moreno, and Herrera’s father, Juan J. Herrera, who has been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years. It was the elder Herrera’s experience that got the restaurant up in running in less than two months, Herrera and Moreno said. The restaurant is also based on Juan J. Herrera’s concept for a small, local pizza place. “My dad always said everybody likes Italian,” Herrera said. “For me, there are three things I love: tacos, burgers and pizza. Who doesn’t love those, right? I mean you can’t go wrong. And there’s too many taco places here already.” For Herrera, who grew up watching his father open restaurants throughout his childhood, becoming a chef was a natural choice. He attended the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, where he graduated in 2013 and began working in restaurants in Santa Cruz County and in San Diego, Calif. Earlier this year, he and his father opened another restaurant in Green Valley called Carne e Vino.

Then they saw an opportunity to take over the shopping center storefront in Rio Rico that had previously been occupied by the restaurant Nonna Vivi. It was the perfect spot for the little pizza joint Herrera’s father had always imagined. Opening two businesses in less than a year is a challenge, but it has actually worked to their benefit, Herrera said. “Most of the crew trained (in Green Valley), so when it came time to open this one is was just putting together the pieces of the puzzle,” he said. Herrera and Moreno put their skills together, with Moreno adding business skills to Herrera’s culinary experience. The two decided to keep things simple, creating a small menu of starters, pastas and salads in addition to a variety of pizzas. Everything came together quickly, and Moreno said he even opened early, serving their first customers on Aug. 19, the day before they were scheduled to officially open. Since then they have kept busy, though Herrera said they are more concerned with making sure the restaurant is running smoothly than increasing the number of customers. “We’re focusing on the basics. There’s a saying in Spanish, ‘El que mucho abarca poco aprieta,’” he said, explaining that they didn’t want to bite off more than they could chew, but were relying on word of mouth to bring in diners, and it has been working. Fond memories The location is good, Herrera said, because so many people visit the shopping center and come to try the food. Plus, the friends have a lot of memories here. “We never thought we’d be here where Nonna Vivi’s used to be,” Moreno said of the spot they used to come as teens. Herrera added that he remembers eating here before prom, pointing out the corner where he sat with his date.

 The two friends finished each other’s sentences as they described what it’s like starting a restaurant together in the community where they grew up. “We get along so well. We’ve been roommates, business partners, best friends since middle school,” Moreno said. “There are times when I tear out my hair, but at the end of the day it works.” The two imagine having another restaurant someday, maybe in San Diego, but for now they are committed to making Pizza e Vino the best it can be, planning an outdoor seating area and a garden on the patio where they could grow herbs to use in the kitchen. Pizza e Vino is at 1060 Yavapai Dr. No. 5 and is open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.