Restaurant Revisited: A Pie in the Sky at Aponte’s Pizzeria

by in Shows, August 25th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleFacing nearly a quarter of a million dollars in debt, Tony Aponte looked to Robert Irvine and the Restaurant: Impossible team to give his Mason, Ohio, business, Aponte’s Pizzeria, a second chance at success. Tony had been working in pizzerias since he was 11 years old and purchased Aponte’s just eight years ago. But during that time, he hadn’t made a single change to the menu. “I grew up on it, and I stick by it,” Tony said of his food. Ultimately, it was this menu that Robert deemed to be the root of Aponte’s downfall. “There’s just no taste to anything,” Robert said simply, noting that the dingy decor and difficult-to-navigate entrance didn’t improve the overall dining experience. With only two days and a $10,000 budget, Robert got to work on breaking down the self-described “bull-headed” Tony and transforming Aponte’s into a thriving pizzeria once again. FN Dish caught up with Tony a few months after his business reopened to find out how it’s doing today.

After a rocky start, Tony is adjusting to the changes at Aponte’s. Robert’s improvements have boosted the restaurant’s bottom line, with a 60 percent increase in sales at the end of June.

Although a few of the old plates are back on the menu, Robert’s custom-made dishes are still featured at the pizzeria. Tony tells Dish that nearly all of the customers are happy with the new offerings, especially the Salmon Tapenade and Chicken Parmesan.

The contemporary design has been well received by diners; as Tony explains, “95 percent of the customers love it.”

Tony adds that he’s micromanaging his team less now and is indeed more accepting of change than he was before Robert arrived. “I am looking forward to what the future will bring to [the] restaurant, my family and me.”

More from Restaurant Revisited:

Benner Street (July 28)
Hurley’s American Grille (July 21)
Kalico Kitchen (July 14)
Angelo’s (June 23)
Pier West Restaurant (June 16)
Pinehurst Country Lodge (June 9)
Bryan’s Smokehouse (May 26)
Wagon Wheel Family Restaurant (May 19)
Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant (May 12)
Smitty’s Restaurant (April 28)
Old World Italian Restaurant (April 21)
Joe Willy’s Seafood House (April 14)
Sweet Tea’s Restaurant & Catering (March 24)
Soup to Nuts Diner (March 17)
Caseyville Cafe (March 13)
Maniaci’s Italian Restaurant (March 10)
Dinner Bell Restaurant (February 27)
Nanny Goat’s Cafe & Feed Bin (February 20)
Sapori D’Italia (January 23)
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 (58)

  1. masonbuzz says:

    Want to know how Aponte's is doing? Find out at

  2. Mobstar67 says:

    I cringe when I hear these owners talking about bringing there old menu items back …..
    Very scary and they all seem to go this…
    Makes me nuts!!!

  3. Elehna says:

    Sometimes I think these restaurant owners just want a free remodel. makes you wonder about the stubborn rude owners who always go back to their crap menus. I have been to some dives before, with cleaner kitchens then the main floor and the food was good, and been to nice looking places where the food sucked, the menu is HUGE and the whole point of having a restaurant in the first place besides having a buisness, Cooking good food for customers, so if you can't do that right, u will never stay open. good luck Antone, I would rethink your old menu items, mayhaps change what is wrong with them and fix them if you insist on keeping them.

  4. Tom Norvell says:

    Wife and I was in Lebanon,OH, today and thought we would just make the short 10mile trip to Mason to Apontes, after seeing the show on Food Network….OK,….we parked in the rear of restaurant,walked toward the front,and quite honestly,you still have to look at a sign on the side of the building to figure out how to get in,and part of the sign is hand written with an arrow,kind of sad after a "big makeover"on TV… had snowed the night before,and ,no effort had been made to shovel the walking areas to get into the business,also the parking area still covered in snow(this at around 215pm….AHH, yes, 215 pm… we walked in, the host asked us if we were dining in, or taking out…we said "dining in"…….NOPE!!!…closed between 2-4 in the afternoon for diners, carryout only…..the website says nothing this,we turned around and walked out as 2 other people was going in…they also walked out………I guess Tony does not need the business….snow-covered ,slippery walks,hand made signage,and web-site not up to date…..we wont even try again……I didn't even get food,and somehow felt like they didn't care one way or the other

  5. tired of dives says:


  6. tired of dives says:

    he was a ignorant ass. his food sucked before and after

  7. James W says:

    Went to Apontes because we saw the episode on RI on Saturday January 18th around 7:30pm. Drove around 45 mins in the snow just to go here. Parked in the back untreated parking lot. Still was unsure about where the entrance was as we approached the building walking on the untreated sidewalk as well. Walked in and immediately saw the owner sitting at the bar drinking a beer with his daughters, that we recongized from the show. The host then asked the owner where she should seat us. Our waitress was very nice but not very attentive. She recommended the dumplings that were seen on RI>

  8. James W says:

    We waited and waited and waited finally when they arrived they were warm as if they had been sitting out and burnt at the top. Then ordered 2 10" pizzas and a greek salad. Again after waiting and waiting and waiting, while the owner sat at the bar we recieved our food. The $9.00 over priced salad that was suppose to come before our pizzas came out the same time as our dinner. The pizzas tasted okay, but were barely luke warm.We noticed that there were more employees "working" (on their cell phones) then customers. Which would explain why our food was luke warm. As a small business owner myself I try and help out those who are in small businesses as well. But it makes its difficult to support businesses like this one. For my 45 min drive in the snow and a $50.00 bill for luke warm food, we will not be returning to Apontes anytime soon.

    • desi says:

      did you call the owner over to your table and bring his attention to it? Why did you not send the food back and just leave? I would have. Clearly the man has some issues…

  9. Brad says:

    I drive by this place everyday and honestly there is no difference from them and the laundry mat accross the street, both have the same 80's style window painted signage that is nothing but a turn off. Robert would cringe if he came back and saw. Not to mention the sign out front, the wood is rotting away and ready to fall apart. Don't seem to show any pride in what they have. Real shame.

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