angelo

Angelo and Denise Elia, owners of Casa D’Angelo restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, will open an Aspen outpost this summer in the space formerly occupied by Piñons.  

Angelo Elia is bringing his rich Italian heritage, extensive wine collection and nearly a hundred pounds of fresh truffles to Aspen this summer.

The Florida restaurant owner plans to open Casa D’Angelo in early July in the downtown space known for more than 30 years as Piñons. Piñons owner Rob Mobilian announced last week that he sold the business after 33 years.

“For me, I’m focused on great service and food,” Elia said Tuesday. “That’s my goal: to give quality [food] to not just the tourists who visit, but also, I want to focus on the locals, because that will [allow us to] remain open all year-round.”

Elia, who owns a home in Snowmass Village and spends time in the area, described the concept as “Tuscan with a Southern Italian accent.”

A native of Salerno, Italy, Elia launched his first Casa D’Angelo in Fort Lauderdale — where he and his wife, Denise, currently reside — in 1997. Since then, Elia has opened another nine establishments: four namesake Italian restaurants, four pizza and tapas bars as well as a bakery.

“It’s just me and my wife,” Elia said. “Being in business for me for so many years … we run the restaurant like a family.”

Casa D’Angelo Aspen will be the couple’s first venture outside South Florida and the Bahamas.

“I love Aspen, and I will not stop here,” Elia said. “There’s more in progress and more coming.” He hinted that a proper pizzeria may be down in the line “in the near future.”

For now, the couple is focusing on Casa D’Angelo and an extensive remodel of the existing space. Plans to fully gut the space are underway, he said Monday.

“It’s going to have a completely new look. Everything will be new,” Elia said, describing the aesthetic as “a nice, modern look with an Aspen accent.”

Changes in the works include an expanded patio, a wine room and a private area that can accommodate 16 to 18 guests. Elia is also thinking about building out an elegant private club in the subgrade space at some point.

Signature dishes will include homemade pasta — think pappardelle porcini and fettuccine with white truffles – as well as fresh fish and a signature veal chop.

“Whatever’s fresh, whatever’s in, I bring to the table,” Elia said. “I strive to be the best all the time. Sometimes in this business, it’s not easy to be [at] the top, but we’ve been doing this for [many] years.”

Erica Robbie is a contributing editor for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at erica@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @ericarobbie.