HISTORY OF THE RESTAURANT
THE ORIGINAL PHARMACY
Built in 1894, the building on the corner of Gates Avenue and Cambridge place originally housed both a pharmacy and tailor shop (where the kitchen is now). At that time, the streets weren't paved, the occasional horse-drawn carriage could be seen, and life in the neighborhood was very different than it is now, Eventually, the apothecary took over the back space and served the community of Clinton Hill for over 100 years until it went out of business in early 2000.
FROM PHARMACY TO RESTAURANT
Around that time, Catherine and Francois Louy were looking to open a restaurant somewhere in Brooklyn. Both had years of industry experience in Manhattan (she was a manager at Balthazar, he was the GM of Cipriani). They searched in every neighborhood, but couldn't find the right fit. When they saw that their historic neighborhood pharmacy had closed after 103 years of business, they knew they had found their space. They spent months restoring the original wood interior, and opened Locanda Vini e Olii in January of 2001.
They brought over a young, talented chef from Florence to craft the menu and run the kitchen. The result was an Italian restaurant unlike any other in the city at that time. Focusing on the use of high quality ingredients and traditional Tuscan recipes, executive chef Michele Baldacci created a menu full of simple, rustic, and unique dishes.
Catherine and Francois spent the next nine and a half years building the reputation of Locanda Vini e Olii as one of the most authentic Tuscan restaurants in New York City. In the summer of 2010, they decided to hand over the reigns to Chef Baldacci, sommelier Rocco Spagnardi, and their long time employee and General Manager, Michael Schall.
These new owners, while staying true to the philosophies and traditions that have developed over the past 10 years, carry with them an energy and enthusiasm that harks back to the first days of the restaurant. From the decision to start baking the loaves of Tuscan bread in-house, to a handful of new traditional Florentine dishes, to the re-birth of seasonal wine tasting dinners, Locanda Vini e Olii is young again.