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The former Pizza by Angelone (locally called “Angelone’s”) occupied 788 Washington Ave. in Portland's East Deering neighborhood for over 50 years — and was a fixture in the neighborhood.
Now restaurateur Steven Quattrucci and his business partner Neil Rouda, who recently bought the property from Laura Angelone, are expanding the 1,363-square-foot building by 2,500 square feet to reopen it as Monte’s Fine Foods, a specialty food store with takeout.
Quattrucci and Rouda bought the property for $700,000 in a deal that closed Nov. 9. Michael Cobb from Cardente Real Estate, representing the seller, and Jed Rathband from Keller Williams Realty/The Rathband Co., representing the buyers, brokered the transaction.
“This project represents another example of off-peninsula growth in Portland,” Rathband said via email. “We have seen the rebirth of Woodfords Corner and Forest Avenue, as local residents are wanting higher-end amenities closer to where they live. As the peninsula continues to experience skyrocketing rents and sale prices, more and more people are considering these neighborhoods to live in.”
The buyers hired Kaplan Thompson Architects to design the new space.
“It’s a modern design that pays homage to the hip-classic former gas station,” noted Rathband, adding, “This is such a great project with great local people heading it up.”
According to the Angelone’s North website, the restaurant’s founder, John “Jack” Angelone, opened his first restaurant on Veranda Street in Portland in 1947.
“He entertained customers by playing the piano,” the post says. In the late 1950s, the Angelone family moved its restaurant to Portland’s Monument Square. And in the late 1960s, Jack Angelone bought three gas stations — in South Portland, Westbrook and at 788 Washington St. — and turned them into pizzerias.
He subsequently gave the pizzerias to three of his daughters. Laura Angelone took on the 788 Washington Ave. spot and was the seller in the deal.
Seller’s representative Cobb said each of the three Angelone’s pizzerias was run independently by the three siblings. The South Portland property has since sold. The Angelone’s in Westbrook, at 768 Main St., is still going strong. The Portland Angelone’s was also a popular spot, Cobb said.
The property originally went under contract in 2017, but took a year to close, he said, adding, “It’s one of the deals you hope to have, where everyone leaves the table happy.”
Quattruci grew up in Portland and his family was in the food business in Portland for many years: His grandparents had a restaurant in the 1940s and early ‘50s, and his father and uncle owned grocery stores, he told Mainebiz.
In the late 1980s, Quattrucci opened Back Bay Grill, “a dining destination in Bayside before Bayside was cool,” a September 2016 Portland Monthly review says.
At the time, said Quattrucci, was one of the first farm-to-table restaurants in Portland. After three years, he sold it. He then cooked professionally in San Francisco for several years but returned in the late 1990s to open West End Grocery in Portland. He’s worked in food sales for distributors, ran a food volunteer program for the Preble Street homeless shelter and, most recently, worked with the Portland food coop in its prepared foods program.
He decided to get back into business for himself again after talking with Rouda, an entrepreneur and former publisher. The initial idea was to start a wholesale food business. But they happened to come across Angelone’s and found it was for sale.
“We loved the location — close to but not on the peninsula,” Quattrucci said. “It’s an area of town perhaps underserved for the type of products we wanted to sell. And we loved that Angelone’s has been on that corner for 50 years and that it’s an established location with great visibility.”
The plan morphed into a retail operation selling local and imported food products, mostly Mediterranean. Plus, they’ll have in-store dining featuring Roman-style pizza made on the premises. There are several types of Roman pizza, he said. In this case, they’ll make Roman “pinsa,” a rustic multi-grain flatbread that’s crispy and light, he explained. Toppings will feature the local and imported ingredients sold in the store.
“I’ve been to Rome several times and studied pinsa-making,” he said. “I’ve been developing our dough, which uses locally grown Maine grains and American wheat and rice flour. We’re excited about the pizza.
Overall, he said, the goal is to continue the neighborhood feel established by Angelone’s.
“I love that neighborhood and want to be part of it and be part of the community,” he said.
Construction is underway. Built in 1960, the building was operated as a Mobil gas station from 1960 to 1969. The renovation includes incorporating some of the gas station’s original elements, such as original enamel panels that were part of the exterior.
“We’re restoring the front to make it look more like it did originally, with windows that look like garage doors, because two-thirds of the building was an auto garage,” he said. “We found beautiful, original, large windows from the auto garage, so we’re saving those. We found remnants of the original robin-egg-blue garage doors and we’ll probably repurpose that as a bakery case.”
The project includes taking out some interior walls and rebuilding the interior so it will be part grocery store and part seating area.
Construction also includes adding 2,500 square feet for a new kitchen, restroom and patio. Construction is expected to take six months; with an expected opening date of late May. The total cost of the project, including the purchase price, is expected to be about $2 million. The project is financed by Bangor Savings Bank, the Small Business Administration, and the Portland Development Corp., with additional equity investment by Rouda and a second partner, James Bruni.
The new establishment, said Quattrucci, is named after Quattrucci’s grandfather, Ernest Monte, who had a Portland construction company in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s and was a leader of the local AFL-CIO. The name is a tribute to two circumstances: Monte was good friends with Angelone’s founder, Jack Angelone. And when Monte retired in the 1970s from construction, he would help out another friend who owned some local gas stations.
“So I thought this is the perfect place for my grandfather Monte,” Quattrucci said. “He would love this.”