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. Chris of Louisville says:

    FNGossip – It's one thing to offer "news of the internet". But it's something else to offer opinions about what it takes for a restaurant to be successful. I would think that if you have such wisdom, you'd be a restaurant owner and not an internet news peddler.

  2. Cathy says:

    Got up this morning and was ready to travel 3 1/2 hours to visit the Pizzeria but after reading the blogs and the reverting back to the old menu I decided not to make the trip. Best wishes to them anyway.

  3. thomas reuland says:

    just wanted to see how Apontes is doing since the show and if they are still having good customer turn out

  4. bimmerlady says:

    We went to Apontes about 2 weeks after Chef Irvine left. I just watched the episode last Sunday to see waht Irvine was attempting to repair for the food. My husband got the spaghetti and meatballs. He asked the waitress if they had angel hair; she didn't have a clue. This was not a surprise since it took about 15 minutes for someone to come over. I ordered the lasagna. We saw lots of pizza coming out; we were glad we did not order. One guy by us picked up a slice, took a bite, and tipped the pizza downwards towards his plate. The grease just ran off. Another couple next to us asked for additional napkins so they could soak up the grease on the pizza. The meatballs tasted frozen; the sauce on the lasagna tasted like it had been left on a burner all day and was very close to being burnt before it was used. First and last trip. It isn't worth it especially to be there for over an hour. We had to flag down another waitress to get our drinks refilled. 2 thumbs down.

  5. Paul says:

    Apontes food was terrible,im actually italian,born over there but raised in New York.ate there before the ri crew tried to help. It's amazing to read that he brought back his old failing menu/recipes but you could tell from his demeanor on the show that he was going to revert back to his old ways. It's a shame too because seeing the show and how much he cares about his family, it really makes you wish nothing but success for him but he's just not cut out to run a restaurant.

  6. Lizzi says:

    My boyfriend and I went over at the beginning of August, maybe two weeks or so before the episode was set to sit. I had not been to it before, though I had talked to about a dozen people who had and claimed the good was pretty decent before the make over. We were excited to go and went late, a little after 9pm. I think there were maybe 4 customers besides us and about 4 or 5 female staff members hanging out chatting at the bar. Our waiter was very nice, had no problem discussing the taping experience with my boyfriend, lol though im sure he has had to talk about it a million times. I ordered a large canzone and my befriend ordered the salmon. And then we waited…… And waited…… And waited…. It really did take over 45 min to get our food. I would hate to go when they were actually busy. I will day my canzone was so tasty. I loved everything about it except the wayiit was served. It amen out whole for me to cut but it was on a raised perforated pizza pan that made cutting it up a pain. My boyfriends salmon was soso. It was to me bland, cold and the rice pilaf it was severed on was just as bland and cold. Would I eat in again? Probably not…. But carry out is a likely hood.

  7. James says:

    A Pie in the sky at Aponte's Pizzeria is depends on experience .Lynn is Robert's best cook designer .

  8. dave says:

    the only thing impossible is to get a restaurant done in two days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. mmurphy627 says:

    My wife and I visited Apontes on 10/13/2013 specifially because it was on RI. We had no problem finding the restaurant after 75 mile trip from Grove City, OH. We ordered the Chicken Parmesan and the Calis Calzone. Both were fantastic, but far too big to eat at one sitting. We took them home to eat the next day and they were as fantastic as the first time. The real problem that I had was the price…. I should have paid $15.00 for the Chicken Parmesan and $12.00 for the Calzone.. But I paid $11.00 and $9.00. Robert, you did not get through to this guy.

    The waitress was fantastic, she told us all about the RI experience and the food and the makover. Tony did come out, but did not engage us. It was a pity, because we would have loved to talk with him.

    We will be back to this little Italian restaurant as soon as we can.

  10. Sandie says:

    I never ate at Aponte's before RI came for makeover. The food was not good. We waited for our waitress and then waited for our food. We were told their little garlic knots were to die for. I think if I had eaten a whole one I would have died. they were small, hard and barely lukewarm. We saw lots of pizzas come out to people all around us. It was disgusting to see the people pick up a piece and then have to drain what seemed to be a tablespoon of grease from each piece. One couple took a bunch of napkins to soak up the grease before eating. My husband had chicken parm and I had the lasagna. Little or no flavor but extremely salty. We did not take left overs home as i would have had to throw them in the trash. Not worth a second trip. After watching the show; it does not appear the owner wrote down any of Robert's ideas or recipes.

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