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Giuseppe Scafidi's new Deco Ristorante in the Museum District provides a showcase for his design talents. Photo by Isaac Harrell
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Photo by Isaac Harrell
As soon as I walk into a place, I know exactly what it's going to be," says restaurateur Giuseppe Scafidi. Respecting the architecture of the building that he's renovating is central to his design philosophy.
So when he saw the art deco touches in the structure at 2901 Park Ave., which used to house the Cucina market and catering company and, earlier, a 1950s gas station, he knew exactly what to do.
After months of major exterior and interior renovations, Deco Ristorante opened at the end of June. The new restaurant is a stylish addition to the Museum District, joining a neighborhood that includes Bandito's Burrito Lounge, Caliente and Café Diem. A modern take on a classic diner, Deco serves Italian food with a Sicilian focus.
No newcomer to the Richmond restaurant scene, Scafidi describes himself as a chameleon when it comes to design work. Throughout his career, he has used his knowledge of architecture and design to create memorable spaces to improve dining experiences, changing his designs to suit each environment and paying attention to every last detail.
Among other places, his designs can be found in the interior of Emilio's in Short Pump, where he used colorful mosaic tiles and curves to reflect Spanish culture, and in the pizza oven and lighted bar at Stuzzi.
His work with Deco is no exception. Every detail, from the window treatments to the zigzag pattern on the floor, to the tiny hooks that hold up the hanging light fixtures, has been researched and carefully chosen to create an authentic but modern style. The restaurant also features a curved bar, inspired by mid-century radio bars, where you could open the top to reveal turntables and bottles; art deco artwork on the walls and contrasting light and dark wood on the benches and tables.
Much like the design, the menu at Deco is a contemporary take on traditional cuisine, with a section of Sicilian "street food" such as meatballs with currants and pine nuts, fried rice balls and chickpea fritters.
Sicilian food is "a healthy mix of influences," says Scafidi, who is also the restaurant's head chef. Among Deco's dishes are eggplant salad; pasta with clams, mussels, shrimp and calamari; and thinly cut, breaded veal with vinegar. The menu features "[family recipes] that I've been doing forever, and a few dishes that people will recognize," says Scafidi.
2901 Park Ave., 342-4278
Hours: Lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily; dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.