PITTSFIELD -- If you go down the stairs to eat at Ezio's Ristorante, you will find a cute dining room with a raised section. You will find the Rat Pack on a picture on the wall, and possibly playing on the stereo. And you will probably find yourself chatting with chef and owner Lisa Roughley.
"I love the socializing," said Roughley, who amiably chats with customers new and old about anything from her Si cil ian roots to the ingredients of the food they've just eaten.
Roughley originally opened Ezio's in Lanesborough in 2009, naming the restaurant after her father.
"It was a dream I had, something I've always wanted to do," she explained in an interview some time after my meal there. "I've worked in the restaurant business since I was 13 years old; my aunt and uncle had a catering business. I started young, watched my mother cook, always enjoyed cooking."
Roughley saw a property in New Ashford and planned a lodge on it with her husband. Then he fell ill. When she found a place in Lanesborough, later in this difficult time, she felt she had to take a chance.
"This thing came," Roughley recalled, "and I thought, ‘If I don't do it now, I'll never do it,' so I decided it was time. I was 40 years old, time to do something with my life. It was at the same time that I lost my job of 16 years that I buried my husband, and I knew it was time to make a move."
And so Ezio's was born. Roughley immediately fell into the rhythms.
"I do enjoy it," she said. "I love the cooking part."
Eight months ago, Roughley moved her operation to Park Square.
"I have a lot of nice regulars," she sad. "The food is very good, all homemade. People enjoy it; it's working out okay, we're happy with it."
While some may consider it a blasphemy to order Mexican food at an Italian restaurant, I couldn't resist the breakfast quesadilla ($7.50), a nicely presented quartered flour tortilla filled with eggs and bacon, with sides of salsa and sour cream. The quesadilla held up well enough under the sauces, and the bacon was strong and nicely crispy, allowing it to shine through the dish. The side of home fries, though, were disappointingly mushy.
Thankfully, there was no disappointment with "Lisa's steak bomb" ($8), a roll with hot steak, onions, mushrooms and cheese, served with a side of french fries. The last restaurant at which I'd had a steak roll left me underwhelmed, but the steak bomb here had very good meat that went nicely with the provolone. This sandwich was deliciously juicy without becoming soggy, and the great mix of flavors combined to make a hearty and satisfying sandwich.
Still, it was hard to ignore the dessert menu, so I settled on a pistachio gelato ($5.25), which I was informed that Roughley had recently tasted at Choc olate Springs and insisted on serving at her own restaurant.
After tasting the very creamy gelato, I could understand why, as she explained the superiority of pistachios grown in volcanic ash.
Overall, it's a pleasant place to have brunch.
"I believe Pittsfield is a better location," Roughley said, "with more foot traffic. And it's a larger location; there were only 44 feet at the other place. This has the capacity of 120, I can do more catering, and plan to open up the whole dining room."
After three years of restauranting, Roughley is still enjoying her co-workers. "My mother ‘Nana' has a part in it; she does the homemade minestrone soup," Roughley said. "My daughter, An gela, and grandson, Justin, are a part of it. It's all very family-oriented, all home cooking. And my staff is wonderful. I couldn't do what I'm doing without the people beside me. We're just chasing the dream as far as I'm concerned. Hopefully we'll catch up to it."
What: Ezio's Ristorante
Where: 17 Wendall Ave. Extension, Pittsfield (just off Park Square)
Hours: Breakfast and lunch Wednesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday to Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner Friday and Saturday, 5 to 8 p.m.
Handicapped accessible: No
Price range: $6 to $15
Credit cards: Major cards accepted
Information: (413) 344-4260, www.ezios.net
Rating: 3.5 chef's hats out of 5
Chef's hat rating system
3: Good food: no reason not to try
4: Worth repeat visits
5: Take visiting friends here
to impress them