Italian restaurant gains OK from Marlboro board


MARLBORO — Get ready to saddle up at a new upscale restaurant for some classic Italian dishes and a bottle of red.

An applicant received site plan approval to construct a 1,584-square-foot addition to convert a freestanding bank into a restaurant. The Marlboro Planning Board approved the application at its Oct. 17 meeting.

B&B Hospitality Group, the applicant, plans to open the Osteria Restaurant in February 2013. The Italian eatery and bar will be in the Brooks Edge Plaza at Route 79 and Ryan Road, in the building that once housed a Capital One bank.

“It’s going to be a rustic-style restaurant with reclaimed wood flooring, a nice-sized bar and a nice place for the neighborhood people to come and eat,” said Angelo Bongiovanni, the owner and operator of the establishment.

Seating will be available for 120 people, Bongiovanni said. In addition to two indoor dining rooms, there will be a glass-enclosed wine room, an outdoor patio for seasonal seating, and a smaller outdoor patio for private parties, he added.

Osteria will be open from noon to 11 p.m. during the week, and from noon to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant will not serve takeout food, the owner said.

Engineer Marc Leber, who testified on behalf of the applicant, said the proposal calls for the elimination of the drive-up area of the former bank.

Most of the additional space to be built by the applicant will be used for the kitchen, storage and a walk-in freezer that will only be able to be accessed through the restaurant’s interior, Leber said.

To protect diners in the outdoor seating areas, B&B will add a decorative wall that is in tune with the rustic theme of the building, Leber said. He agreed to design the barriers to standards provided by the board’s engineer.

Some of the paved portion of the site will be removed to make room for a trash enclosure that will be guarded from view by a fence, Leber said. The applicant will add a decorative grass area to the site.

At one point in the hearing, Leber said the applicant would like to request a variance for a monument sign. Brooks Edge Plaza already has the maximum number of stand-alone signs permitted on the site.

Attorney Sal Alfieri, who represents the applicant, said another restaurant in the plaza has a monument sign. He said B&B would like to build such a sign, rather than simply post the establishment’s name on the plaza’s main sign.

In response, board Chairman Larry Josephs said, “The concern I am picking up here from the board is that if we were to allow this monument sign, which becomes the third sign on the frontage even though we have all of this space, what will potentially happen is every tenant in the shopping center is going to want to come back and have that same right.”

The applicant eventually withdrew its request for the variance because Bongiovanni did not yet know the specific measurements of the sign he would like to post.

Parking will not be a problem for the new restaurant, said traffic engineer John Rea, who testified on behalf of the applicant.

Josephs said the board was initially concerned with the parking aspect of the proposal due to the success of the Fireside Bar and Grill on Route 79.

He said the Fireside was in compliance with Marlboro’s parking ordinance, but its owners had to add more parking spaces after a surge of patrons forced some people to park across Route 79 and then walk across the highway to dine at the restaurant.

Osteria will need 60 parking spaces to support the proposed number of seats, Rea said. He said a condition of Bongiovanni’s lease with the plaza’s owner designates 72 stalls to be used exclusively for the restaurant.

Even if the number of customers exceeded that, Rea added, the building is in an empty section of the plaza with about 140 parking spaces in walking distance.

The gym Work Out World, which will soon open in the same plaza, is expected to bring about 200 cars during peak evening hours. Rea said that will not pose a problem, considering the parking lot has a total of about 430 spaces.

The next step for B&B is to obtain a demolition permit to eliminate the bank’s drive-up area, Alfieri said.