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 (260)

  1. Amy says:

    Hmm. Guess its all in the eye… And attitude of the beholder. I too liked the stone in the original bar and didnt think they should take it out.. But once I saw the finished design I made the comment that I thought this was the best redesign I'd seen yet. The green, grey, and white colors seemed very complimentary. Looks more upscale than old world to me now. I think it looks very nice.

  2. rose says:

    GOOD LUCK MANNO FAMILY!
    They look so sincere
    and i wish them all the best <3

    ps: sorry to kill the mood but i hate the decor, mayb if there r enough comments about it, she will stop doing it
    pps: Gasper u r an awesome painter, u can tell he took a lot of time painting them

  3. Steven8tor says:

    Glad the family found themselves. If they're happy with the changes, it's all good. But personally I was floored when they tore the smooth stone bar down. Stunned is a better word. Talk about change for change sake. It seems these type shows (RI is the worst at this) do the opposite of what's there, no matter how good it really looks. I mean, if the bar had originally been wood with moldings, they would have replaced it with tacky fake "rocks" to bring in the surrounding area. But because it already had beautiful stone work, they decided to just do the opposite and tear it out. The other stuff is less egregious, but that stone work could have been trimmed out in nice moldings or columns. Just something that enhanced what was already there.

    Seems on Yelp that they have gone back to dull sauce. I hope they read this: Make the sauce tangy, tasty and distinctive to your restaurant! Bland is never good.

    Good Luck Guys!

    • Phillik4 says:

      My hat's off to the Manno family. Having been a Fountain Hills resident for more than 10 years, I can attest to the fact that its really hard to be in the restaurant business here. I try to support my community by eating in town so the local business owners can thrive. This is one hard working family that deserves success. Their food is terrific and their prices VERY reasonable. The personality of the restaurant is more relaxed and enjoyable now and I hope everyone gets on their weekly updates and forwards to friends and family.

  4. Anne says:

    I live here in Fountain Hills and went this evening for Happy Hour (5 -7pm) after a long day.light I was greeted with sincere smiles from staff, and took a seat at the bar. Just wanted a little bite and a glass of wine. The staff was lovely. Friendly but not overbearing, and seem to be very happy to be working there. i had the mussels marinara app and it was great, and really enjoyed watching Gasper make the pizzas and support his staff, and interact with the customers at the bar. i was there about 90 minutes and Gasper & Maria both came over and asked how everthing was. i told them i'd seen the show and was very happy for them. They all couldn't have been nicer and more welcoming. Food great, staff & owners great. They can change the decor if they want! no so bad. quality food, quality service. Great job Manno family! (and RI)

  5. Lori says:

    I have seen many restaurant impossible episodes that have touched my heart, but none like this episode! This family broke my heart, and I wish them nothing but great success in the future. You can tell they all love each other so much and they deserve this second chance!

  6. Lori says:

    I have seen many restaurant impossible episodes that have touched my heart, but none like this episode! This family broke my heart, and I wish them nothing but great success in the future. You can tell they all love each other so much and they deserve this second chance!

  7. Kevink85255 says:

    Robert, Wish you would have made them take down those nasty, moldy plastic drapes that cover the patio. How they dont see how nasty looking that is makes me question how clean the kitchen is.

  8. blims says:

    Does RI or the Food Network ever respond to the comments?
    What do they have to say for allowing them to tear down the beautiful interior design
    especially that gorgeous bar?
    What is their response to the overwhelming negative reaction to the cheap redesign?

    • blims says:

      Food Network where is your response?

    • S M says:

      This is the FIRST time I've seen them do a remake that made the restaurant WORSE. If I had been those restaurant owners I would have been FURIOUS at what they did to the bar. A lot of money was in it. It was a focal point, very lovely and now it looks like a tacky diner. TERRIBLE JOB AND A BOOOOOO TO THAT DESIGNER!!!!!

  9. Mitch says:

    The fact he paid $700,000 and another $100,000 in renovations was the crazy part.
    He overpaid and put himself in a financial hole immediately.
    It can only get worse from there.
    I bought a grocery store for $75,000 because the previous owner was in IRS trouble.
    I also took over an empty spot that had been a bar/restuarant for absolutely no cost at all.
    Patience and timing will present opportunities.

  10. LaNette says:

    I think decor is awesome and glad to hear family is doing better

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