Restaurant Revisited: Sapori D’Italia

by in Shows, January 23rd, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleIn addition to his expected mission of renovating the interior and designing a crowd-pleasing menu at Sapori D’Italia in Fountain Hills, Ariz., Robert Irvine faced the challenge of mending a broken family. Together with their sons David and Jonathan, owners Gasper and Maria Manno used to spend much of their time at the restaurant arguing, something that was downright disruptive to customers trying to enjoy a meal. After working with the family to discuss their issues with the restaurant and each other and spending $10,000 on renovations, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team reopened the doors to Sapori in only two days. Today, the restaurant is a comfortable eatery with a made-over menu of full-flavored Italian classics to match. Read on below for an exclusive interview with Gasper to find out how Sapori is doing today.

Immediately following filming, Sapori’s revenue shot up nearly $8,000 per week for the first three weeks. Things have settled down a bit since then, with the weekly increase averaging a respectable “$2,000 more than the same time last year,” according to Gasper.

Returning customers have been impressed with the changes at Sapori, and Gasper adds that there have been “lots of new faces” coming by for the first time.

Robert’s new menu items have been high sellers and well-received by customers. The restaurant has incorporated his cucumber salad, marinated beef and chicken osso buco into their regular list of offerings, but instead of serving the osso buco with polenta as Robert did, Gasper swapped in mushroom risotto.

While Gasper is still striving for perfection with his servers, he admits that they’re “not so bad” after all. Chan continues to work at Sapori and is “doing great,” according to Gasper. David and Jonathan are working at the restaurant, too, with David managing front-of-house operations. “Now they want to be here,” Gasper says of his sons. “The family is doing much better.”

To Gasper, one of the most important outcomes of the transformation has been “having my family back working together.” Maria, “works very hard,” Gasper notes, adding that as a couple, they “are doing much better” since the renovation. Customers, too, have noticed a change in the staff’s demeanor at Sapori, as Gasper notes, “The guests have told me many times that they are also very happy to see the whole family working together.”

To Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible crew, Gasper says, “A very sincere thank you to the entire team that showed me the light at the end of the tunnel.”

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Windseeker Restaurant (January 16)
Whiskey Creek Steakhouse (January 2)
Rising Sun Bistro (December 19)
Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri (December 9)
Bronk’s Bar and Grill (December 5)
Rohrer’s Tavern (November 28)
Poco’s on the Boulevard (November 21)
Oleander Bar and Grill (October 17)
Valley Inn (October 10)
Whistle Stop (October 3)
The Maple Tree Cafe (September 26)
Michele’s (September 19)
Paliani’s Restaurant (September 12)
Frankie’s (September 5)
Gusanoz (August 29)

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Comments (263)

  1. Dee says:

    I liked the old decor but it was dark and uninviting. I do like brighter surroundings than most people when I eat because I like to see my food. I would replace that chintzy hostess station with something a little more elegant. Reviews on Yelp are mostly positive but a few real bad ones. If I were the Mannos I would read the negative ones and ask what could be improved; most had to do with speed and quality of service. Hopefully business picks up and they can make this business successful again.

  2. Zeke says:

    This is the first episode I have seen where the new design was worse than the old. It looked like any of a thoussand other "design on a budget" spaces. Did y'all go in with DIY network and get some sort of discount on that electric green paint. I hate white walls, but that color is disturbing. Painting over that man's murals was criminal. Dipping the light shades in gold paint was just plain tacky. I bet that holds up real well.

    The only good design decision was framing the mural. Too bad you didn't show us that you expanded it greatly, because the after shot sure didn't show the same mural as the before shot.

    • Mary says:

      I agree with Zeke. The new design looks like any other cheap diner now. This is the first time I have been disappointed with the new decor results. The green paint is unforgiving. The bar took a turn for the worse. The painted white cabinet used as a greeting counter looks really cheap and dinky. What was the designer thinking? The "fresh" flowers used are best suited outside planted in a garden. In a few days they will be history. Very disappointing episode.

  3. JAy j says:

    I love RI and have loved every renovation before this one. I hate to say it But
    It I agree with everyone else. The redesign cheapened the decor. The stones in the bar were magnificent and grand. Put them back. However a face lift was definitely needed to transition this family mentally. I just think the color choices could have been better. Love the dad. Wow it's nice to see a man uninhibited by his own emotions and feelings and it transcends to the sons. What a loving compassionate family. Good luck I'm rooting for you!

  4. Bonnie says:

    Have eaten there several times and always loved it! Great pizza and marinara sauce. We actually drive over an hour to get there. Never had bad service and the decor was elegant. Don't like the new decor.

  5. Portia says:

    I am the mother of kids with Asperger's, and I think he seemed like he had Asperger's. I find your comments really insensitive, offensive, and homophobic. I suspect many of us would not be too fond of your family either, if they are as rude as you.

  6. Portia says:

    The $10,000 remodel of what had been a $100,000 redesign according to the owners made me want to cry. It was warm and cozy feeling before, with an old fashioned grand design. The new color was cold and tacky. The new hostess stand looked like bathroom cabinets from Home Depot. The new light shades were such obvious cheap plastic. And how is framed wallpaper with plates stapled to it "1920s art deco?" Given that the restaurant has been teetering near failure and could end up having to be sold, it was sad to see the RI crew seriously hurt the resale value of the restaurant. The most tragic part was what they did to the stone bar front, which went perfectly with the pizza oven. I have been to Italy more than once, and the original had an authentic Italian feel. The redesign doesn't say Italian at all. I don't know what it says, except bad designer and "Home Depot discount aisle." Just so so sad. And I liked all his murals. I would much rather rest my eyes on those while waiting for my meal than on framed wallpaper.

    I wish the family luck, and I think Food Network owes them a lot of money for that ruinous redesign.

    • Jessica says:

      I disagree with your comment. I love the new style. It is very upbeat and stylish. Brighter colors make you want to eat. As for going to Italy, I to have been to many places in Italy. You have old Italy and new Italy. The new style is new Italy and it shows the newer side of Italy. It makes it stand ouy from the rest

    • Jessica says:

      I disagree with your comment. I love the new style. It is very upbeat and stylish. Brighter colors make you want to eat. As for going to Italy, I to have been to many places in Italy. You have old Italy and new Italy. The new style is new Italy and it shows the newer side of Italy. It makes it stand ouy from the rest

    • Jessica says:

      I disagree with your comment. I love the new style. It is very upbeat and stylish. Brighter colors make you want to eat. As for going to Italy, I to have been to many places in Italy. You have old Italy and new Italy. The new style is new Italy and it shows the newer side of Italy. It makes it stand ouy from the rest

    • Jessica says:

      I disagree with your comment. I love the new style. It is very upbeat and stylish. Brighter colors make you want to eat. As for going to Italy, I to have been to many places in Italy. You have old Italy and new Italy. The new style is new Italy and it shows the newer side of Italy. It makes it stand ouy from the rest

    • Pauline says:

      Portia, I agree with you 1 million percent !!!!. The place just needed a little cleaning and brightening up and the family just needed to work out their issues.
      The original style of the restaurant was timeless and felt Italian. What RI did was absolutely a disgrace.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Portia,
      I just read your post and pray that my reply sounds sincere as that is what it is. It seems that Restaurant Impossible did something right. Help mend a family.
      I love watching the show and can say I have never logged on to follow up with the owners progress. After watching this episode, I felt lead to after watching this family's journey. I am sorry to hear that your first thoughts are the disappointment in the quality of the deco and I am positive you are sincere.
      I have read the numbers were high the first two weeks and are steady now so between the financial success and the mended relationships I dont see how this is a loss?

      • Epic Fail says:

        If I wanted to see families mended, a seemingly growing focus on R:I lately, I'd watch Dr. Phil or some other such show.

        The show is called Restaurant: Impossible, not Relationship: Impossible. Get back to messing up the design of restaurants and leave the family therapy to the professionals.

    • Tia C says:

      I could not agree more, Portia! The redesign looks terrible, compared to the original. This restaurant had an Old World Italy design to it before. I thought Gasper's murals were beautiful – I could not believe they painted over them – how horrible! The place just needed a thorough cleaning and some fresh paint in places. The addition of the hostess stand was the only thing I liked, although the cheap 70s plastic rings hanging behind it were not necessary. I never like this designer's work, though. The only one who has real talent IMO is Taniya. They need to just stick to having her as the designer. She's probably too busy now with her independent career though, so they have to rely on what they can get. I'm glad the business is doing better, but it's a miracle with that hideous green paint and the tacky decor.

    • Chef N says:

      The new look is great and all the knowledge , the works, the design all are cost nothing to the owner who will gonna go out of business very soon. If it is no help from Chef Robert. I don't know why you guy see only the negative. May be …. Craziness , Jealousy ….?? … or just plain idiot …!!!

  7. nick says:

    omg thats freakin hilarious !!!!!!! hahahahahahah

  8. fc Ventnor NJ says:

    I wish the Manna family much good luck with their new restaurant and new attitude. Along with the renovation, Robert needed to tell Maria to wash her face and paleeeez get rid of those acrylic nails. Nothing says yuck like fungus under the nails of a restaurant owner. Restaurant people should shine. Along with the quality of ingredients, it's about the sparkle.

  9. Anthony Carfagno says:

    WOW … What about the TRANSITION within the FAMILY?
    God BLESS YOU ROB!
    I work as a FIREFIGHTER & the ORDER with US IS:
    1). LIFE SAFTY
    2). PROPERTY Conservation
    3). ENVIRONMENT

    The Stone was nice around the bar BUT … LIKE THE "FAMILIES" ALTITUDE with each other it was COLD!
    ROB … I worked one NEW YEAR EVE with you at Ceasers in Atlantic City … Didn't know you at the time but you were yelling A LOT! (LOL)
    You said something to me in passing & I just said: DUDE … Just tell me what you want & I'll do it!"

    Anyway … I LOVED THIS EPISODE (And ALL YOUR PROGRAMS) It''s the ONLY "REALITY SHOW" I think worth watching …

  10. Kris says:

    The original deco was so much better! YIKES that green paint, really?? The stone bar was a perfect compliment to the pizza oven; the cheap frames were terrible! I hope the family saved some of the furniture and can replace the disaster RI did to their once inviting restaurant ! To paint over the beautiful murals was a crime!

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