We got wind of this a couple of weeks ago, and now it's official: Bruno's Little Italy will rise again, this time on the ground floor of the Mann on Main annex, the Mann Lofts, at 310 Main.
Gio Bruno, whose father, Jimmy Bruno, opened Bruno's in 1948 in Levy, said he's thrilled about being a part of "what I think will be a historic rebuilding" downtown. Moses Tucker is renovating the Mann Building for state offices and its annex for apartments.
The press release:
BRUNO’S LITTLE ITALY TO OPEN ON MAIN STREET IN DOWNTOWN LITTLE ROCK
After over a year’s absence, Little Rock’s original Italian restaurant will re-open in downtown
Little Rock on the ground floor of the Mann Lofts at 310 Main Street. The restaurant will be
operated by Vince Bruno, son of the legendary founder of Bruno’s Little Italy, Jimmy Bruno, in
partnership with his brother Gio Bruno. The family has a 60+ year history of serving the best
Italian food in the Little Rock area, starting in the Levy neighborhood in North Little Rock, and
followed by ventures on Roosevelt Road, Old Forge Drive, and Bowman Curve in Little Rock.
“We are very excited to get back closer to our roots downtown,” said Gio Bruno, who will
train the pie-men to toss pizzas visible through a window into the kitchen. Brother and Chef
Vince Bruno commented that, “We have all the old Bruno’s recipes which we have been serving
to several generations of Arkansas families and visitors alike. Bruno’s Little Italy, which will have
seating for 70 patrons inside and 30 more outside on an outdoor patio.
Construction starts today, March 11th, with a Grand Opening scheduled for early August.
Financing for the restaurant is being provided through Arkansas Capital Corporation of Little
Rock. The architects for the restaurant are AMR Architects and the General Contractor is
Central Construction Group.
The Mann Building and Lofts, scheduled for completion in June, is a joint venture of Moses
Tucker Real Estate and the Doyle Rogers Company. The Mann Building is 95% leased and 11 of
the 19 loft apartments have been spoken for, according to Tommy Lasiter of the Doyle Rogers
Company. The project also includes a 415 space parking deck and room for additional retail and
“This is a major announcement for Main Street and a signal that the grand old street is
coming back to life in a very dynamic way,” said Anne Laidlaw, chair of the Downtown Little
Rock Partnership’s Main Street Revitalization Committee.
Gio Bruno said the restaurant, after jumping through some hoops with the city, got permission to level the sidewalk in front of the Mann Lofts to have sidewalk seating for 30. The restaurant will seat 70 inside and there will be a window into the kitchen that will allow diners to watch the pizzas being thrown, just like in the old days.
Bruno said he expects his brother to restore some items to the menu that weren't offered during the restaurant's days on Bowman Road: Spaghetti Reggio, which is spaghetti tossed in oil and onions; and Spaghetti Caruso, spaghetti topped with fried chicken livers in a marinara sauce with mushrooms. Bruno said his grandfather came to America on the same boat as the famous Italian tenor.
Lunch hours haven't been nailed down, but lunch will be served Monday through Friday. The restaurant will open at 4 for take-out orders and the dining room will open at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.