Business & Finance

Somers' Italian Restaurant Leads Mini Redevelopment on Route 202

Susan and Rick DiNardo, proprietors of Il Forno Trattoria Credits: Rich Kirby

SOMERS, N.Y.--Il Forno Trattoria has served over two generations of Somers diners at 343 Route 202, and is now preparing for major upgrades and renovations.
What’s more, it’s bringing some of the surrounding neighborhood along with it.
“We are creating a little mixed-use business district that will offer offices and retail and apartments upstairs,” said Rick DiNardo. He and his wife, Susan, have been the owners, operators and developers behind the Somers eatery for the past 23 years. 
The DiNardo family’s two new buildings are part of the Wrights Court Development, just across from the restaurant on Scott Drive. The spread of buildings is a planned community of seven residential apartment, office and retail spaces. Everything will be connected by sidewalks–a walk down Memory Lane for most residents of northern Westchester. 
“It kind of gives the feeling of the old town where people had businesses downstairs and there were residences up top,” DiNardo said.
The restaurant first opened in 1995 following an extensive multi-year restoration of the building which houses it. The latest renovation, however, will only take two weeks, planned for the end of September. That’s a narrow window of construction making for what DiNardo calls a “very intense project,” during which time the restaurant will be closed.
The construction across the street, which will include “affordable housing options,” will take a little longer to complete.  
“The town has a master plan; they have spent a lot of time and effort on a vision of what they would like to see, and what they would like it to be. They have controls that ensure that.” Those controls include a gauntlet of separate consecutive reviews by the town, planning, architectural review and zoning boards that DiNardo’s architects, engineers and contractors have been running since January.
“So obviously it’s an intensive procedure and sometimes it gets frustrating, but you understand that this is what needs to be done in order to control growth within reasonable expectations,” DiNardo said.
The renovation at Il Forno is intended to change the overall design and feel of the restaurant. All new French doors will open onto the front of the establishment facing Route 202. Builders will remove the main dividing wall to allow for a new 22-foot bar. The wall behind the bar will be glass, providing diners a view into the open pizza kitchen. Additional modifications will accommodate private parties and provide what Susan DiNardo describes as “a more open feeling.”
The modern farmhouse design of the restaurant’s new facade is a clear concession to the architectural theme of the town’s century-old historic district, where it resides.
DiNardo makes a point of assuring the eatery’s regulars that the menu will keep all the “old favorites” but will also add a number of “health-conscious items,” which will include gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.
Il Forno Trattoria will be closed for renovation the last two weeks of September only, and re-open Oct. 2. The new development on Scott Drive, already under construction, will be complete and open to the public in December.

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