Luigi's Italian Restaurant 12/12/17

Shown are Eddie Elezi and Massimo Elezi, with Rita Elezi, at Luigi's Italian Restaurant in Mattoon on Tuesday.

KEVIN KILHOFFER, JOURNAL GAZETTE & TIMES-COURIER

MATTOON -- The new Luigi's Italian Ristorante is offering fresh-made pasta, pizza, and more in downtown Mattoon.

Brothers Eddie and Massimo Elezi, both originally from Venice, Italy, opened their restaurant on Saturday at 1610 Broadway Ave., a storefront that was previously home to Bidwell's. They are running the restaurant for their uncle Luigi Puggi, who has Viva Italia restaurants in Hannibal, Mo., and several other locations. The new restaurant is named after their uncle.

"Our recipes are our family recipes. Every dish is made from scratch. We make everything fresh," said Massimo Elezi. He and his brother serve as chefs at Luigi's.

Massimo Elezi said they are particularly proud of their bellissimo special, which is chicken and sausage with bell peppers, ham, black olives and artichoke hearts in a white wine cream sauce with a touch of marinara served over homemade spaghetti. The bellissimo is on the menu among house specialties that also include fettuccini alfredo, chicken cacciatore, pasta primavera, and more.

Eddie Elezi said many of their entrees feature seafood, such as the linguini tuttomare's New Zealand mussels, jumbo shrimp, sea scallops, and baby clams sauteed in white wine, garlic, butter and lemon. The seafood dishes include linguini with clams in red or white sauces, shrimp ravioli, salmon picatta, and scrimp scollapini, as well.

Luigi's also offers chicken or veal parmigiana, marsala and other entrees; spaghetti with a variety of toppings; baked dishes such as lasagna and ziti; and brick oven-style pizza. The pasta sauce options include marinara, alfredo, olive oil with garlic and basil, and alla panna orange sauce that has alfredo with a touch of marinara. Many of the dishes are accompanied by a side salad and home baked Italian rolls.

"We make the rolls fresh every day here. They are very tasty," Eddie Elezi said.

The menu also includes calzones, strombolis and other hot sandwiches; minestrone soup; full size salads; appetizers; and desserts, including cannoli, Italian creme cake and tiramisu. The restaurant serves a children's menu throughout the week; and lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Luigi's plans to offer beer and wine.

Massimo Elezi said the opening of Luigi's resulted from Mattoon residents dining at Viva Italia in Hannibal and enjoying the food so much that they suggested Mattoon as a location. Massimo Elezi said his family subsequently visited Mattoon and found a building with the help of Keith Summers, who owns 1610 Broadway. They have converted the former chocolate-making space there into an additional dining room.

"We came here to serve the town and do the best we can," Eddie Elezi said.

Luigi's is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday each week. More information is available by calling 217-234-2268.

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