The inside of Rizzi’s Italian Ristorante has a warm, welcoming atmosphere that invites diners to experience a traditional Italian meal. The lights are dimly lit, Frank Sinatra is quietly playing and the aroma of wine and pasta sauce fills the air.
Located at 4613 N. Sheridan Rd, Rizzi’s has been open for over twenty years. According to owner Bekim Rizvani, he and his father David, a co-owner of the restaurant, have always been in the restaurant business.
“Ever since I was younger, I worked in restaurants and my father was the chef of one restaurant,” Rizvani said. “We originally lived in New Jersey, and he was pretty competitive over there.”
Twenty years ago, Rizvani and his father decided to move their business to Peoria, where, according to Rizvani, there were not a lot of Italian restaurants.
“At that time, there wasn’t a restaurant like this,” Rizvani said. “It was a different kind of food [that] we brought to the area.”
Rizzi’s offers a variety of traditional Italian dishes, from chicken parmesan to fettuccini alfredo. The restaurant also boasts an extensive wine menu.
Rizvani said he wants customers to have a welcoming and familial experience when they eat at Rizzi’s.
“[Diners] get a different type of experience here than if they went to a chain type restaurant,” Rizvani said.
Part of being able to provide that experience to customers is having the same waiting staff, which, according to Rizvani, allows customers to form relationships with the servers.
“We have the same employees that have been working here for years, some of them have been here over ten years,” Rizvani said. “[Diners] see the same people and they get the same service every time they come in.”
Bradley students who have been to Rizzi’s said the restaurant had a comfortable and hospitable atmosphere.
“[Rizzi’s] had dim lighting and candles at the tables,” Kelly Ditmars, a senior health science major, said. “It was very romantic and had a homey feel to it because it’s such a small restaurant.”
Ditmars, who ate at the restaurant on Valentine’s Day, said she would dine at Rizzi’s again, but the food was pricey.
“Yes, I would go back to Rizzi’s, but the food was pretty expensive,” Ditmars said. “I feel that it’s a place to go for a special occasion, like Valentine’s Day.”
Prices of menu items vary, with the most expensive item being the tortellini and steak tips for $20.
At the end of the day, Rizvani said he enjoys spending time in his own business that offers a family-friendly experience.
“There are a lot of family and friends here,” Rizvani said.