SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Old Tower Hill Road will soon be home to a new pizzeria in town, after the Town Council on Monday night approved a license for the establishment to serve beer and wine to patrons.
Owner John Russo said he would begin opening the doors to his latest restaurant endeavor immediately. Seven years ago Russo opened , an Italian food take-out store featuring – you guessed it – pasta dishes.
Although Russo’s Pizzeria Mezzo will open up next door to his pasta restaurant, he said customers can expect more varied foods at the new spot. Russo will feature traditional coal-fired pizzas and satisfy patrons with dishes of sirloin and chicken tips.
“We designed it so that we could accommodate customers with beer and wine as opposed to just soda,” Russo said. “Initially we really didn’t want a beer and wine license, we thought about doing just BYOB, but a lot of friends and customers wanted beer and wine and encouraged us to go for
The council awarded Russo a limited Class B liquor license to sell beer and wine at the pizzeria located at 32 Old Tower Hill Road despite a neighboring property owner’s concerns that the increased traffic brought on by the restaurant would compound safety and liability issues in the area.
Costanza Realty LLC, represented by lawyer Keith Kyle, whose property abuts the plaza that will include Pizzeria Mezzo, worried that as the third restaurant in the building, it would increase traffic problems on its property. Go Pasta! and will neighbor the pizzeria.
“My client’s primary concern here is one of liability, and because the road is used as a thoroughfare, that her liability is increased and exacerbated,” Kyle said. “We don’t want the town to minimalize or marginalize that increased liability. If someone was to be injured backing out or turning in, everyone is going to get sued here. We are concerned about liability because there is obviously going to be an increased usage.”
Councilwoman Carol Hagan McEntee refuted Kyle’s argument, stating that the strip of road had been used by many businesses for more than 10 years without incident or complaint to the town. She said no signs were present to deter motorists and the roadway was a thoroughfare for the abutting business by way of a prescriptive easement.
“We have limited the access,” Kyle said. “The access is for people who use the Bank of America, Job Lot and Indian Run. There’s no sign but there might be a wall pretty soon.”
Russo’s lawyer argued that the council had already granted a victualing license for Pizzaria Mezzo at its April 23 meeting, and that the award of a beer and wine license would have little to no impact on the traffic patterns. The council granted a beer and wine sales license in a 5-0 vote.
In other restaurant news, one of Peace Dale’s landmark eateries has changed hands.
The Pump House will reopen next month under a new name, the Roadhouse, although one of the new owners, Stuart A. Tucker of North Kingstown, assured the council that the building would retain its historic look.
“We hope to carry on with what the Pump House has been known for - as a destination restaurant,” Tucker said. “The building is beautiful and what we have done already, I think we have added to it, and I hope the business will follow us.”
Much of the menu will remain the same, but Tucker said the food would be more geared toward a steakhouse audience. Like his other two restaurants in North Kingstowns, and , Tucker said
he also planned to bring in fresh seafood dishes.
The council voted unanimously to transfer the victualing and liquor license to Tucker from the previous owner, Robert Haberland.
In other business, the Town Hall and Peace Dale Library will be converting to greener energy sources. The council unanimously voted to allocated $172,000 to a project that will replace the buildings’ ageing oil-burning boilers with natural gas-fired ones.
“The cost between natural gas and oil is significant at this point,” said Town Manager Stephen Alfred. “We are going to replace very aged equipment here at Town Hall and a boiler at Peace Dale Library and be able to see a substantial reduction in operating costs.”
With the current systems, it costs taxpayers $8,200 per year to heat the Town Hall and annex and an addition $7,400 for the library.