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Business Spotlight: Michelangelo Ristorante Italiano

For more than 26 years, on the north side of Magee just west of Oracle, the Ali family has served superlative Italian food and drink in a sublime space decorated with reproductions of works by the greatest Italian painter.

Michelangelo Ristorante Italiano reflects the intentions of the late Damiano Ali, who opened Michelangelo with wife Assunta and their three sons, Giuseppe, Franco and Vincenzo, back when tiny Oro Valley was far to the north.

December 3, 2015

The restaurant business is truly “in our blood,” Giuseppe said. “We grew up in the business.”

All three brothers attended Harelson Elementary School, Cross Middle School and Canyon Del Oro High School. Damiano picked up the boys after school, and took them to the family restaurant. They did their homework, and they did their restaurant work.

“My Dad had a plan pretty much for all three of us,” said Giuseppe. “It was a great plan.”

Vincenzo is the chef, Franco the pastry chef.  Both men went to Italy to learn their art. Giuseppe earned degrees in business and accounting at the University of Arizona. Assunta still works Fridays and Saturdays. “Our regular customers always ask about her,” Giuseppe said. On Sundays, the restaurant is closed. “We get together at Mom’s house on Sundays.”

At Michelangelo Ristorante Italiano, “we treat our customers like family, we treat our employees like family,” Giuseppe said. One employee retired after 23 years, and several have more than 20 years with the business. There are 40 employees in all. 

The restaurant business is tough, with grueling, unrelenting hours, changing tastes and expanding competition. “It’s always a challenge,” Giuseppe said. Of late, the reconstruction of Magee Road hampered Michelangelo’s business.

Yet the Alis persist, mixing the foundations of great food and atmosphere with “new concepts” to attract guests. Michelangelo now offers a wine-tasting event the second Wednesday of each month. Guests can try craft beers at a tasting the last Wednesday of the month. And there is live music, Fridays or Saturdays, outside when the weather is nice, inside when it’s too cool, or too hot.

The wine- and beer-tastings, and the live music, are attracting followings. Michelangelo celebrates Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday Dec. 12, with a tribute featuring his music, and the food and drink he loved.

Michelangelo Ristorante Italiano offers catering, and private rooms for banquets, holiday parties, rehearsal dinners and groups.

Now that Magee’s finished, the Alis invite you to visit.

“The street’s open back up, and it turned out beautifully,” Giuseppe said.

Michelangelo Ristorante Italiano
Founded by Damiano and Assunta Ali
420 W. Magee Road (West of Oracle)
520.297.5775
Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Saturday, 4 p.m.-10 p.m.
Closed Sundays
Website
 

By: Dave Perry, President/CEO Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce

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