It was an ambitious plan. Piccola Italy Pizza and Subs’ owner Rick LoPresti decided to reconfigure the space next door connected to his pizza parlor. Out went the manicotti and ziti and in came Eastern European fare like goulash and sarma. Walls were put up between the two spaces and, led by partner Nikola Mladenovic, a separate business began. The sit-down concept became Piccola New Style.
Next to the restaurant, Piccola Crepes and Coffee, in a tiny corridor-like space with a few tables, offered sweet and savory crepes, plus loaded potatoes that were mostly takeout.
Soon, the menu at Piccola New Style was revamped. Pizza, buffalo wings and other college standards like burgers and sandwiches replaced the less familiar items.
But the project never became the success that LoPresti and Mladenovic had hoped. The property at 1102 W. Main St. is now up for lease.
“Since VCU has evolved so much on the Grace Street and Broad Street corridor,” says LoPresti, “and also since the business building has moved down to Belvidere, we lost a lot of the foot traffic.”
And because of the wall that sealed off the two businesses, LoPresti didn’t feel like he could supervise the restaurant next door the way he wanted to, particularly when he started to get some bad feedback from customers.
Right now, Piccola New Style should remain open for about another month. LoPresti is in negotiations with a couple from Annapolis, Maryland who want to bring a juice-bar concept to the space. Renovations are planned to give the spot a different look, including rolling garage doors to make a big, open-air terrace.
Piccola Italy Pizza and Subs is nearly 28 years old and the pizza ovens aren’t going to be turned off anytime soon. LoPresti plans to refocus on the delivery side business.
“I want to dedicate myself to looking after the [Fan] residents and the people in Richmond,” he says. “We aren’t going away.”