It’s not DeFazio’s, but the 21st and Amidon area is about to get a new Italian restaurant

It’s been two years since DeFazio’s at 2706 N. Amidon suddenly closed, and ever since then, the 21st and Amidon area has been aching for Italian food.

Soon, it’ll have a new restaurant to try.

This week, a sign went up in the window of the old Neighbors space at 2315 W. 21st St. promising the impending arrival of Amore Italian Restaurant. The space has been vacant since Town & Country Classic left in March after only a few months in business.

Amore will be owned by a family that also has two restaurants in Mississippi and is also about to open one in Hutchinson. Tony Demaj, who will be in charge of Roma’s Italian Restaurant at 216 N. Main in Hutchinson, said his cousin, Visi Milushi, will run Amore in Wichita.

Roma should open in a week or so, he said, and Amore should take about a month or a month and a half.

Classic Town & Country vacated the old Neighbors spot at Clear Lakes Shopping Center in March, but it’s about to get a new Italian restaurant tenant.
Classic Town & Country vacated the old Neighbors spot at Clear Lakes Shopping Center in March, but it’s about to get a new Italian restaurant tenant.

Both restaurants will serve authentic Italian fare made from scratch, Demaj said, and the menu will be populated with dishes like lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken Marsala, chicken piccata, shrimp Alfredo and more.

“We don’t use the microwave or anything like that,” Demaj said. “It’s a family-owned business. We do have a couple of more locations, but it’s not a chain or anything like that.”

Demaj said his family has been in the restaurant business ever since his father and uncle opened a restaurant in New York in 2005. Demaj’s father is a native of Albania, where he opened the first Amore restaurant. (Demaj said his mother was born in Italy.)

The family sold those restaurants then started two businesses in the southern United States — Amore Italian Restaurant & Bar in Oxford, Mississippi, and Luigi’s Italian Grill in Madison, Alabama.

Demaj, who worked in the Alabama restaurant, said a customer there who owns properties in Kansas suggested he look at a restaurant space in Lawrence that had come available. Demaj didn’t like that space, but his friend also knew about an open building in Hutchinson.

“I loved the building, and the main thing I loved about it is that it doesn’t have any competition,” Demaj said. “Olive Garden is not competition for us. They use frozen food and everything is microwaved. What we do is completely different. We make everything from scratch.”

Demaj said his Hutchinson landlord knew about the vacant spot in Wichita.

A month ago, Demaj and his wife moved to Hutchinson to start work on Roma’s. Milushi will be relocating to Wichita next week to get going on Amore, Demaj said.

Amore will include a bar, but it likely won’t be ready until a month or so after the restaurant opens. The restaurant also will also offer a lineup of lunch specials.

“I think it’s going to be a good fit for Wichita,” he said. “We do have fresh food, and our prices are fair.”