By Randy Arrington
LURAY, April 23 — On Wednesday morning, local community leaders gathered to celebrate the grand opening and a ribbon cutting at Il Vesuvio Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria on West Main Street.
“We want to thank the community,” owner Monica Algarme told the group gathered in the former Gennaro’s in front of a buffet of Italian dishes. “Everyone has been so kind.”
Algarme, along with co-owner Byron Munoz, first purchased Gennaro’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria in January of 2020. A little over a year later, renovations have been made to the kitchen and dining area, the menu has been tweaked with new pastas and specialty pizzas, and the name has been changed to reflect the owner’s heritage.
“I’m Italian. My mother was born and raised in Naples,” Algarme said. “We wanted to bring authentic Neapolitan Italian cuisine and Neapolitan culture to Luray.”
The two owners were visiting Luray on a weekend trip in 2019, when they were searching for a place to eat late one evening. Gennaro’s was one of the only places open, so they went in to dine. When the owner mentioned in conversation that he wanted to sell the eatery, it sparked an interest.
However, despite their more than 25 years of experience in the industry between them, these first-time owners know they will have to set themselves apart in a small town served by several pizzerias.
“Our sauce is homemade, even the dough is different…Byron’s recipe,” Monica said. “There is nothing out of a box or a bag.”
In addition to fresh ingredients and new menu items, Vesuvio now offers breakfast Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7 to 10 a.m.
Rebecca Nauman was an employee of Gennaro’s under the previous ownership — and in her younger days, she even worked at the original Tastee Freeze that occupied the building for many years.
“It’s wonderful,” she said of the restaurant’s recent overhaul. “These guys are incredible. They are the best bosses I’ve ever had, and I can say that in front of them or behind them.”
The new owners gutted the kitchen and installed a new oven and stove. The dining room has been opened up, painted and decorated with new art. The menu has added new options, and of course, a new sign has been installed to reflect the new name, as well as the new atmosphere.
As Wednesday’s ribbon cutting commenced, the new owners asked those in attendance to join them in an Italian tradition, and toast the grand opening with a glass of champagne. They were no dissenters.
“We thank you all for coming,” Monica told them, “and please…enjoy the food.”
Il Vesuvio’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, 402 W. Main St., Luray, is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday (closed on Tuesdays); and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. In addition, they serve breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m. on Friday through Sunday.