The owners of a new Italian restaurant and pizzeria under construction at the former Sonoma Grill site on East Main Street in downtown Riverhead hope to open for business by mid-November.
Dean Spitaleri, an owner of the new restaurant, met with town officials during yesterday’s town board work session to discuss the site plan application for Michelangelo’s Pizzeria. Site plan approval, which is required for any exterior building alterations and site improvements, must be obtained from the town board — rather than the planning board — for properties within the downtown business district.
Interior work at the restaurant has been ongoing for several months. Spitaleri discussed his plans for the exterior with town board members yesterday. They include work on the facade, new brick walkways and patio seating areas.
Board members told Spitaleri that the parking lot lights must be brought into compliance with the town’s “dark skies” code, which went into effect for new construction in 2005 but gave existing properties until December 2017 to comply with the new requirements. The code regulates lighting fixture types in the hope of limiting light pollution.
The board agreed that the site plan could be approved without a public hearing, since the exterior renovations are “de minimis.”
The building, a longtime bank, was extensively renovated for use as a restaurant by restaurateur Dennis McDermott, who opened the high-end Riverhead Project restaurant there in 2011. The restaurant was abruptly shuttered in September 2014, after McDermott signed a stipulation with building owner Archangel Holdings to settle an eviction proceeding commenced that July.
Sonoma Grill opened there in 2015, but closed a year later — also after eviction proceedings were begun.
Archangel Holdings principal Chris Pia told RiverheadLOCAL at the time that he had “three solid suitors” lined up for the site. They were all “quality” names with other successful restaurants in the area, he said, adding he was confident the next tenant will be the right one.