Founder to revive legendary local Italian eatery Bellini's in its original home
After watching Bellini's Underground close from a perch on his rooftop bar at Tommy's Italian-American Grill on West Memorial Road, legendary local restaurateur Tommy Byrd hatched a plan to make a liar out of Thomas Wolfe.
We’ve said goodbye to a number of legendary restaurants in the past few years, but Byrd, with a swipe of his pen, is officially rescinding the farewell we granted Bellini's.
Last month, Diane Buthion closed Bellini’s Underground, apparently ending nearly three decades for the Italian eatery in the Waterford Properties office complex at NW 63 Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
But it looks like Waterford will not have to bother taking down the Bellini’s sign that still hangs over the parking garage.
That’s because Byrd, original founder of Bellini's Italian Ristorante and Grill, has signed a lease to take over the vacant restaurant space for a revival of his crowning achievement as a restaurateur.
To do it, Byrd sold the property where his reboot of Tommy’s Italian-American Grill calls home. Tommy told me he sold it to Jim Burke (with whom Byrd was once a partner in Emerging Brands) and will move his entire staff over to the Waterford to reopen Bellini’s.
“I was going to move Tommy’s over there (to the Waterford),” Byrd said. “But I was down in Austin visiting my daughter, and she loved Bellini’s. When I told her I planned to call it Tommy’s she said, ‘No, dad, you’ve got to call it Bellini’s.' ”
I visited with Tommy on Friday at the original Bellini’s space where demolition of the bar was already under way.
Byrd promises a brighter, more open Bellini’s this time around, and he’s plans to make the sprawling covered patio a happy hour and brunch destination. He said the menu will reflect the glory days of Bellini’s, offering a variety of pasta, grilled steaks and chops, seafood and a broad wine list.
And, of course, you’ll be able to lounge on the patio with a frozen peach Bellini.
Byrd founded Bellini's in the summer of 1990. Response was so enthusiastic he opened the original Tommy's in Northpark Mall in 1992 then a second Bellini's in Edmond in 1995. From there, Byrd invested in Poblano Grill and a handful of others along with Burke and a group of local restaurateurs. Byrd left that group five years ago to reboot Tommy's.
Tommy and crew hope to be up and running in the next two months, so find a comfortable spot on your calendar for summer brunch at the original Bellini’s.
As for the space Tommy leaves behind, he said Burke and partners will fill the space with a Bricktown Brewery. Since the former Emerging Brands group purchased the concept, they’ve expanded it to 15 locations that stretch from El Paso, Texas, to Springfield, Mo. This will make the fifth metro location.
I recently sampled the new Brick Twisted menu, check it out here.
Tommy’s Italian-American Grill will run its final service on April 18, so don’t miss your last chance on the rooftop patio at 5516 W Memorial before the final day.