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Dunedin favorite Bellini moves to Clearwater; Parthenon reopens as Kap's

CLEARWATER — Classic Italian food, fine wine, warm hospitality. That's what patrons of Bellini Restaurant on Dunedin's Main Street came to expect — right up until it abruptly closed in July.

"Dunedin's going to miss them a lot," said Mike Rey, owner of a hair salon across the street.

Now a version of Bellini has come to downtown Clearwater. Same chef, same menu, different name.

Casanova Restaurant & Lounge, which opened last week at 811 Cleveland St., hopes to attract the same crowd. Clearwater leaders regard this as a major coup.

Partners Raffaele Rugo and Ciro Mancini, who was the chef and manager at Bellini, are offering fine dining in an upscale setting — chandeliers, linen napkins, valet parking, a 3,000-bottle wine cellar, live music Wednesday through Saturday nights, and outdoor dining on a patio intended to resemble a Venetian piazza.

"The atmosphere is very elegant, but it's also relaxed. Customers come in after a golf game or the beach," Rugo said. "It's that laid-back Italian pace where you take your time."

Bellini closed suddenly because of a rift between partners and a dispute with the landlord.

So why did Rugo and Mancini choose this new spot across from a Walgreens at the eastern end of downtown's heavily landscaped Cleveland Street District?

"I've been a Clearwater resident for a decade and a half," Rugo said. "We've had the necessities, but we haven't had anything like this."

"The city helped us quite a bit," Mancini added.

They got an $85,000 city grant for the restaurant build-out. But they also say they spent three-quarters of a million dollars to get the place ready.

Times staff writer Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

Parthenon's owners reopen, now as Kap's

An old downtown Clearwater favorite has returned under a new name.

For years, the Kapetanopoulos family ran the Parthenon Deli and Bakery at 705 Court St., but the popular place closed a couple of years ago for various reasons, including road construction and a family illness. Since then, two other eateries at that site have come and gone.

Now the Kapetanopoulos family is back at the same location. Although their new restaurant is called Kap's, it boasts basically the same menu that the Parthenon did. Open during business hours, it serves an array of oven-baked subs, pizzas, pasta dishes and Greek food.

It can be a tough location, with cars speeding by on Court Street. They have a golf cart out front that's painted: "Parthenon's back. Best subs in town!" But city officials just warned them that it's a code violation.

"We're absolutely positive it's going to work out," said one of the owners, Jimmy Kapetanopoulos. "The only downfall right now is, people don't know we're here yet."

Mike Brassfield, Times staff writer

Casanova Restaurant & Lounge, 811 Cleveland St. Open 5-11 p.m. every night. Call (727) 733-5449 for reservations.

Dunedin favorite Bellini moves to Clearwater; Parthenon reopens as Kap's 10/15/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 15, 2010 9:54pm]

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