Compari's, the longtime Italian restaurant on Plano Parkway in Plano, was out of the hands of the Riccardi family for a few years, but that's been rectified. Cathy and Richard Riccardi bought a restaurant with family history: Richard's parents first opened it back in 1989.
"My husband's parents, Gaetano and Marguerite Riccardi, were the original co-owners," Cathy says. "They sold their interest in the early '90s."
When Compari's opened, it stood out from the other red-and-white-checked-tablecloth Italian places in the suburbs because it took a lighter touch, with better sauces and seafood dishes such as grilled salmon with artichokes. Over the years, the restaurant changed hands three times.
Although there were lapses in the food, Richard's nephew Dustin Martinez stayed and worked as server, giving the restaurant some family continuity.
"I'm one of those people who judges a restaurant by the bathrooms," says new co-owner Cathy Riccardi. "If the bathroom isn't fresh and clean, then you have to wonder what else is going on."
"Dustin has a following — there's a huge amount of customers who love him," Cathy says. "When we got wind last year that the owner wanted to get out, we decided to purchase it."
The couple hadn't been involved in restaurants prior to buying Compari's, but Richard and his father, Gaetano, own Food Source, a food-processing company that makes private-label frozen entrées for grocery-store chains and frozen sauces for restaurants.
Gaetano was also behind the Italian restaurant Riccardi's in the Quadrangle, which he ran with Anita, his second wife. Riccardi's closed in 2008.
"Compari's is more of a casual place than Riccardi's was, but we remodeled the place," Cathy says. "It was very dated looking — it looked '80s. We wanted a fresh, bright, warm environment."
That meant a new color scheme, with golden-yellow paint on the walls and a warm brown on the woodwork, plus a total redo of the bathrooms, from new toilets and tile to snazzy bowl-style sinks.
"I'm one of those people who judges a restaurant by the bathrooms," Cathy says. "If the bathroom isn't fresh and clean, then you have to wonder what else is going on."
As for the menu, they've kept many of the classics, including house-made minestrone, mussels in white wine or spicy tomato sauce, chicken, and veal. Plus there are pasta bowls with choice of chicken, sausage, meatballs or shrimp and a choice of seven sauces, from carbonara to pomodoro to Alfredo.
The Riccardis hope to restore some of Compari's original luster. "We're also doing nightly specials — that's new — and we use all fresh ingredients," Cathy says.