Southern Italian Restaurant Sprezza Arrives in Old Morton’s Space in Shockoe | To eat
By Megan Marconyak Special Envoy
When Angela Petruzzelli moved to Richmond, she fell in love with the city but missed the southern Italian cuisine she loved growing up.
“I grew up cooking,” she said. “That’s how my family spent time together.”
After seeing the popularity of pop-up concepts, she launched Sprezza, a pop-up concept from southern Italy, just over a year ago.
As she successfully hosted take-out dinners and event collaborations at The Broken Tulip and Pizza Bones, she began looking for a restaurant space. “The pop-ups were super geared towards things people could take home,” Petruzzielli said, adding that most traditional Italian restaurants don’t offer takeout, so she had to focus on certain items. from the menu that could travel long distances and be reheated. Additionally, being a one-woman show meant the quantities she could make and sell were very limited.
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When she saw the former location of Morton’s The Steakhouse (111 Virginia St.), she fell in love. “Anyone who’s been to the old Morton’s knows it was very dark and looked like a man cave,” Petruzzelli said. “I plan to make it bright and open, like restaurants in southern Italy. It’s going to feel airy, even without windows.
The over 7,000 square foot restaurant has plenty of space and Petruzzelli is thrilled to be able to serve everyone who has supported her business. “I want to give them something amazing and something that I’m proud of…It will be elevated and beautiful,” she said.
The name Sprezza comes from the Italian word “sprezzatura”. “It’s the art of taking something complicated and making it really simple,” Petruzzelli says, and it fits perfectly with his made-from-scratch dishes. For example, his traditional lasagna takes eight hours to prepare and includes fresh pasta sauce and slow-simmered Bolognese. It sells out with every pop-up and will definitely be on the Sprezza menu.
Other popular items are panini sandwiches served on freshly baked bread with imported ingredients as well as fresh pastries, such as the frequently requested sporcamuss. To make them, Petruzzelli stuffs homemade puff pastries with Italian cream. “They take forever to do,” she said.
The restaurant menu will feature fine southern Italian dishes including seafood, steaks, fresh cuts of meat, homemade pastas, freshly baked pastries and desserts. Petruzzelli is particularly enthusiastic about incorporating seafood into her homemade pasta, which she simply couldn’t do with take-out pop-ups.
Sprezza aims to open mid to late November. The restaurant will launch with dinner-only service, but Petruzzelli hopes to add lunch and brunch soon after, and possibly coffee and pastries early in the day.
In the meantime, follow @sprezzacucina on Instagram. Petruzzelli will continue to host pop-ups while overseeing the renovation process and will share details there.
Megan Marconyak has been devouring all the fresh flavors she can find and capturing them in writing for over 15 years. Drool over her culinary adventures and send her your #RVADine tips on Instagram, @MeganMarcoStyle.