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Accent is on authentic at new Italian restaurant

Downtown Auburn's Tre Pazzi is venture of three local businessmen
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Three friends who share a special fondness for Italy are now offering the flavors of the Old Country in Downtown Auburn. Tre Pazzi Trattoria opened in early September as a joint venture of Realtor Gary Capps, of The Capps Group, Jim Bril, owner of Monkey Cat restaurant and Marcello Nolivo, co-owner of The Club Car with his wife, Sarah Sanders-Nolivo. Capps is of Italian ancestry and visits Italy every year. “I’ve spent a lot of time in Italy and a lot of time in restaurants,” he said. Before opening Monkey Cat in Auburn, Bril worked for 25 years at Fior d’Italia in San Francisco. “It’s America’s oldest Italian restaurant — 125 years old,” he said. Nolivo, who grew up in Florence, created much of the menu. “I learned most of the dishes from my mother,” he said. Planning for the restaurant began about a year ago. When the opportunity arose to take over the Lincoln Way building on the edge of the recently completed phase one of Streetscape, they knew they’d found the perfect spot. “They built this $2.2 million intersection, so the least we can do is put an Italian restaurant there,” Bril said with a smile. The first phase of Streetscape realigned the Lincoln Way-High Street intersection, widened sidewalks and enlarged Central Square. When completed, the 10-phase project will stretch from the Historic Courthouse to Elm Avenue, and will link Old Town an Downtown. The restaurant’s emphasis is on authentic Italian fare, with a relatively small specialized menu. “It’s more about using recipes you grew up with instead of taking a recipe and making it American style,” Capps said. The pastas feature noodles made in-house. Among the choices are classics like chicken Parmesan and chicken cacciatore. There are also lamb and veal specialties and pizza. “Some of these (dishes) are hard to find,“ Nolivo said. Lasagna, an early favorite, is Nolivo’s own special creation. “It’s totally unique,” he said. His mother, Pino Nolivo, still lives in Italy but came to Auburn for a couple of months to help her son fine tune the menu and perfect the recipes. In addition to the main menu, there are specials reflecting seasonal flavors and products. The wine and beer are imported from Italy. There’s also a selection of classic Italian desserts. The eatery’s décor features poster-size photographs of scenic Italian sites. Capps and Sarah Sanders-Nolivo took the photos. They’re for sale and available in a variety of sizes, Capps said. For the moment the restaurant is open Monday-Saturday, but plans are in the works to add Sunday. “There will be some big surprises on Sunday nights,” Bril said. That could include family-style dining and taking bookings for private parties. Eventually the three would like to add outdoor service, possibly by spring. Richard Anderson, president of TGH Aviation, has eaten at Tre Pazzi several times already. “My wife and I were fortunate enough that Jimmy and Marcello invited us to the opening night,” he said. “The food was excellent and the pricing very reasonable.” The Andersons have gone back several times since then. “I had the veal scaloppini marsala, which I just loved,” he said. “We’ve had the pizza. I told Jimmy and Marcello, being an ex-New Yorker, I’m an expert on pizza and this is the best pizza I’ve had outside New York. They have a wonderful cannoli, too.” Bril, Capps and Nolivo are appreciative of the ease in getting the business up and running. Opening of new restaurant created 11 jobs, Capps said. “We’re thankful to the city and the building department,” Bril said. “It’s easy to do business in Auburn.” Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com