Local restaurant and sports bar offers flavors straight from Italy

Uccello brothers expanding new business

by BETH ALTENA

Dan and David Uccello are co-owners of Florentine Pizzeria and Sports Bar in Belmont.

David and Daniel Uccello, ages 20 and 25, were confident the location at 1259 Post Drive was a winner for their new restaurant and sports bar, and after four months of success and even expanding the business, their confidence has been proven. Florentine Pizzeria Ristorante and Sports Bar is not only doing good business, but has expanded to offer banquet facilities for parties of up to 120 people. The restaurant and sports bar is hopping with sports fans watching the games on the large plasma screens and with dining fans enjoying the authentic recipes and flavors from Italy.

“We draw from Rockford, Sparta, Comstock Park and Northview,” said David. “This is in the heart of those areas.”

David and Daniel had reason to expect their establishment to do well. Their family is in the restaurant business with father and uncles as owners of 10 restaurants in West Michigan. The entities are known for authentic Italian flavors, also with good reason.

The Uccellos come from Sicily, Italy, where both David and Daniel were born. Their father, Salvatore Uccello and mom Franca, moved the family to West Michigan because his brother was making a success here of the first Uccello’s family restaurant. David was just seven when he moved here, Daniel 12. David started working in the family business at age 15, making pizzas, with his brother alongside, also learning the trade. David is grateful for the opportunity to continue with the restaurant he and Daniel co-own.

“He came here for a better life,” said David of his father’s move to the United States.

David said owning a business in the old country means doing business with the mafia, paying for “protection.” Sicily in particular is known for the strong mafia presence. West Michigan, by comparison, is a better place to own a business. Still, the two are able to visit family remaining in Italy, and appreciate the cooking of their two grandmothers, who passed recipes on to Salvatore.

“My dad taught us to cook and our mom, too,” David noted. “My mom couldn’t cook. Most people assume it’s the other way around.”

David said that when he visits Italy he tries to incorporate some of the recipes from his grandparents into new dishes for the restaurant.

Diners can enjoy the flavors of Italy—the strombolis, bruschettas, signature breadsticks, pizzas and pastas—anytime, but enjoy special pricing during happy hour weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m. when the restaurant offers drink specials and a $2.99 menu. Florentine offers weeknight drink, food and entertainment specials such as half off pasta dishes on Monday, and buy one get one free burritos and live music nights on Tuesdays. On Wednesdays diners can enjoy a top sirloin dinner for just $9.99. On Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m., play team trivia with the biggest trivia deejay in the nation and a prize giveaway for the top three teams. After trivia on Thursdays, there is karaoke until midnight.

For Saturday, Sunday and Monday football lovers, watch the game on the restaurant’s many 110-inch huge big screens and enjoy tailgate specials on drinks and 50-cent wings. The all-homemade Italian cuisine is also featured on daily buffets with all-you-can-eat soups, pasta, chef’s selection of fish, pork, chicken or beef, salad and desserts.

For those who have yet to experience the family-owned authentic experience of Florentine, this Saturday is a great time to make a first visit. The restaurant will host a Halloween party Saturday, Oct. 29 from 10 p.m. to close and feature a costume contest with a grand prize of one 32-inch plasma screen and $50 gift card to the runner up. There will be drink specials, a live deejay and dancing all night long. Find out more about the party by visiting on Facebook.

Between the Florentine restaurant on Plainfield and the new one in Belmont, the two brothers employ about 70 people. They are confident their success will continue as more people learn about the award-winning food they offer, the upbeat atmosphere, plasma screens and the dedication to service offered by the Uccello brothers.

“These family-owned businesses are successful because people can tell when you care,” David said. “They know you care and they appreciate that.”

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