Pete Praia opening Di Piero's downtown

Mangia Bene quietly closed earlier this year, but a new Italian restaurant is preparing to take its place on the south side of the Old State Capitol Plaza in downtown Springfield. Pete Praia, who has a long history in the restaurant business, plans to open Di Piero’s in the former Mangia space at 518 E. Adams.

“The main content of our menu will be pasta, pizza, steaks and seafood, along with a full bar,” said Praia, who previously operated Palermo’s Sicilian Cucina at 751 S. Durkin Dr. and later opened another Italian restaurant, Di Piero’s Sicilian Cucina, on South Dirksen. Prior to that, Praia had a pizzeria called Luigi’s in Riverton and later expanded it to Rochester.

“I’ve taken a break from the food business for the last four or five years,” said Praia, who is also a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Springfield and has a construction business. “One thing I missed about it was a place to get together with my family and share dinner each week.”

Praia’s three children previously worked with him at Palermo’s and while they all have other jobs now, he said that his daughter, Jocelyn, will help him hire and train staff for his newest venture. The chef at Di Piero’s will be Rosh Mahmood, who previously worked as the chef at Mangia and is also involved in The Dog House, a hot dog restaurant downtown that opened in June.

Praia said Di Piero’s will be open from 5-9 p.m. during the week and 5-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

“We’re in the middle of refreshing the place, and we’ve got equipment on order. Some things are beyond our control, but the hope is to be open Nov. 1,” Praia said.

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