Riccardo's celebrating two decades in Tallahassee with beer specials
We'll never forget the first time we stumbled into Riccardo's Italian Restaurant in 2015.
Having just left a haircut next door at the Old Town Barber Shop in the plaza that Riccardo's once resided in off NE Capital Circle, we stopped for a bite to eat — and were blown away by the craft beer selection that we found while ordering.
Rare one-offs. Aged bombers. All the locals. It was incredible -- and also a little confusing.
"This is a huge craft beer menu for such a small place," we remember telling Riccardo's owner John Acevedo. "What gives?"
His reply? "I just really, REALLY like craft beer, man."
Two years later in 2017, Riccardo's — and their longtime popularity around Tallahassee - outgrew that spot, so they moved to Betton Place at 1950 Thomasville Rd. And next week, they'll be celebrating — between the two locations — 20 years serving Tallahassee with a party for the ages.
And, yes, craft beer will be a huge component of the week-long festivities, including exclusive tappings, drink specials, and even the debut of the restaurant's first-ever "Riccardo's"-branded pint glass.
The Ology Pilz and Deep Brewing "Vertigose" — a mango, lime, habenero sour — are both making their Tallahassee draft debuts on Riccardo's taps, and they will also be offering cans of Oyster City's Hooter Brown for $3 all week during the anniversary celebration.
"John and I are so excited to be celebrating 20 amazing years with our customers next week," said Alicea Acevedo, whose mother Tina Lipford bought Riccardo's in 1999 from a previous owner and turned it into a family business. "Both patrons and staff have become like family over the years, and we have felt the love in good times and hard ones.
Alicea and her family moved to Tallahassee in 1997, but Alicea left for Tampa not long after to attend college at the University of South Florida. She and John met while both were working as bartenders at the famed "Improv Comedy Club" in Tampa, and were later married and now have two daughters. In 2006, a family emergency took Alicea's mother back to New York and left the restaurant in need of help. So John and Alicea moved to Tallahassee and took over, despite neither having much restaurant experience.
"We felt so lucky to have been able to continue on what my mom built," Alicea said. "And John getting to indulge his craft beer obsession through the restaurant at the same time is an added bonus!"
As an ode to their Tampa days — coupled with John's obsession with big, tasty, barrel-aged stouts — Riccardo's will feature an exclusive beer from Tampa's Angry Chair Brewing during the anniversary celebration: "Grandma's Dried Up Raisin Stout" — a beer that's so hard to get, John had to reach out personally to Angry Chair's owners to ask for it.
And guess what? Riccardo's received the only keg of it in the entire Panhandle of Florida.
But don't let the deep dive into all this craft beer talk for next week confuse you about what has made Riccardo's locally famous around Tallahassee. At the end of the day, the food, the portions, and the incredibly reasonable prices for authentic Italian cuisine is what Riccardo's is most known for.
From the famed "Secret Bread," to the ridiculous made-from-scratch pizza creations, to the — in our opinion — best meatballs in the entire Southeast United States, there's a reason Riccardo's has been thriving for 20 years now. They plan to offer daily entree specials all next week, plus $.99 cups of their homemade soup, nightly wine tastings, and even a trivia contest on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with $100 gift certificates as prizes.
So no matter what your plans are next week, put this celebration on your calendar and make sure to stop by, grab a bite and a beer, and wish John and Alicea a happy anniversary.
And from all of us here at the Tallahassee Beer Society, "Congrats on all your years of success, Riccardo's — and cheers to many more!"
Proof heads across the pond, again
Proof was the first Tallahassee craft brewery to pour overseas last year when they were invited to the Founders Craft Beer & Music Festival in Madrid, Spain, and now Team Proof is headed that way again this weekend to pour in the All In Beer Fest in Gothenburg, Sweden. (https://bit.ly/2q4R8A1) Proof was one of just six American breweries invited to the event, and it marks the first of two international festivals Proof will be attending this year. The other is the Naparbier 10th Anniversary Festival in Pamplona, Spain, on Dec. 7.
Before they left, however, Proof hosted an event Wednesday to raise money for the St. Mark's Wildlife Refuge in advance of the Refuge's "Re-Lighting Ceremony" on Thursday of the St. Mark's Lighthouse. Proof brewed a special batch of its core beer "Mango Wit" with elderberries and valencia oranges, and they created a limited edition pint glass with a picture of the lighthouse on it.
Sans a craft brewery opening up in Wakulla -- which we believe will happen eventually -- this is one of the coolest things a Leon County brewery could do to help its neighbors to the south.
Deep debuts new (permanent) food truck
From the creators of the growing Tally Mac Shack enterprise comes "The Slide Hustle" food truck, which will now be parked permanently at Deep Brewing. The Slide Hustle held its soft opening last week and the menu features an array of gourmet, homemade sliders — some of which are infused with Deep's beer.
And let us tell you, we tried all six of the sliders during the soft opening, and the food is NEXT-level.
The Slide Hustle will be open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, while Tally Mac Shack will remain the featured food option at Deep on Sundays.
This is just the latest feather in the cap for Tally Mac Shack, which now has two food trucks, two brick-and-mortar locations in Tallahassee and a spot in Doak Campbell Stadium on game days. And they only just celebrated their 2-year anniversary this month.
Congrats to Deep and Tally Mac Shack on this continued local-supporting-local partnership.
The TLH Beer Society is a group of avid craft beer lovers co-founded by Danny Aller, who is also the co-host of the Saturday Morning Bottle Share on 97.9 ESPN radio. Follow TLH Beer Society at Facebook.com/TLHBeerSociety or @TLHBeerSociety on Twitter and Instagram or email firstname.lastname@example.org.