SCOTTSBLUFF — Judging from public comments on social media, the Scottsbluff community has been in need of a good Italian restaurant. One is now on the way as Roma Italian Restaurant gets ready to open at Western Nebraska Regional Airport.
Cousins Alex Gabrica and Noti Berisha are from Dallas, Texas, where family members are in the restaurant business. They learned the cooking end of the business from their cousin Tony, who now operates Luigi’s Italian Restaurant in North Platte.
“We heard about the opportunity here from our cousin Tony and he got us in touch with the airport,” Berisha said. “We’re a family owned business making authentic, homemade Italian food.”
Although pasta is most commonly associated with Italian cuisine, the cousins plan a wide variety of other dishes, from fish and shrimp to chicken, Stromboli and stuffed mushrooms.
“We’re looking for something long-term,” Gabrica said. “We’re not here just to try out the restaurant. We’re planning to be open for as long as possible.”
The cousins said they will need about 20 people to staff the restaurant, from waiters to hostesses to cooks and more for both full-time and part-time positions. Starting out, the restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
“We’ve already applied for a liquor license so our opening date will depend on the paperwork coming through,” Gabrica said. “We’d like to be open sometime in January.”
Berisha said they’re planning a large menu with lots of choices for both the lunch and dinner menus, including a children’s menu. A buffet will be available for larger parties as well as catering services.
The airport has been without a restaurant since October when the previous operator left.
“That’s not a lot of time, but it wasn’t quick enough for my board,” said Airport Director Raul Aguallo. “I told them I wasn’t in a hurry to get just anybody in here. I wanted to get the right restaurant.”
Aguallo said he was familiar with the owner of Luigi’s in North Platte and knew they had fantastic food.
“I’m ordering a lot more saucepans because they make everything in each individual dish from scratch.”