Gusto owner plans to open family-style Italian restaurant this summer in South Jacksonville

Ciao Trattoria Italiana will be owner Tonino Di Bella’s third restaurant in Northeast Florida.

  • By Dan Macdonald
  • | 12:00 a.m. March 22, 2024
  • | 4 Free Articles Remaining!
Ciao Trattoria Italiana at 4076 Belfort Road will be serving lunch and dinner. Owners have set early summer for the opening.
Ciao Trattoria Italiana at 4076 Belfort Road will be serving lunch and dinner. Owners have set early summer for the opening.
Photo by Special
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Tonino Di Bella, owner of the Gusto restaurants in Jacksonville Beach and St. Augustine, plans to open another Italian restaurant in June or July, this time in South Jacksonville.

The family-style Ciao Trattoria Italiana will be at 4076 Belfort Road in the former Leci’s Italian Cafe between Gate Parkway and Butler Boulevard. 

Tonino Di Bella

It will serve lunch and dinner daily. Planned hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It will offer a full liquor bar.

Di Bella said he has had his eye on the property for some time.

“It’s right across from St. Vincent’s Hospital. So it’s a great location for lunch and it’s a great location with its big neighborhoods nearby for dinner. So I feel like it’s the right spot for us to open another restaurant,” he said.

The lunch menu will include sandwiches, pizza by the slice and smaller portions of some dinner items. Lunches are expected to be in the $10-$12 range and dinner entrees around $15, he said.

Di Bella is opening the restaurant with his partner, Suelynn Bacon, who will be the general manager.

The estimated cost to open the restaurant is $300,000. Di Bella is rebuilding the 3,500-square-foot interior, including the kitchen. 

Partners Suelynn Bacon and Tonino Di Bella are planning to open a casual lunch and dinner space in the early summer. They are seen here at Gusto "The Taste of Rome" in Jacksonville Beach.
Photo by Dan Macdonald

The contractor is Vantage Contracting Group Inc. of Jacksonville. Di Bella is leasing the space.

The restaurant will have a private room. Di Bella is building and equipping a new kitchen and dining room. There will be new furniture and tableware.

A large Italian-themed mural will cover an entire wall.

He expects to employ 14 servers and six kitchen workers.

He said it will be a new restaurant, and it is a coincidence that one Italian restaurant will replace another.

“It’s completely different looking. It’s like looking at an apple and looking at an orange. You will not recognize our place at all,” he said.

The restaurant will seat 120. To emphasize the family atmosphere, there will be a long table near the bar that will seat 18. 

Gusto “A Taste of Rome” is at 1266 Beach Blvd. in Jacksonville Beach. The fine-dining restaurant with live entertainment nightly is only open for dinner. 

Gusto Bistro at 4255 U.S. 1 in St. Augustine offers casual dining in the afternoons and evenings.



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