Brothers Mario and Tony have been excellent hosts to their friends and neighbors in Corte Madera, providing them with tasty dishes and drinks for more than 25 years.
"When we first came here, Corte Madera didn't have a place of its own. There was the shopping center where people would come from everywhere, but that was something different," said Tony, born Saheed Farahmand.
He and his brother Manoochehr emigrated to Umbria, Italy, where they perfected their craft in the kitchen. The two, dubbed Mario and Tony, then brought a taste of their adopted homeland to Corte Madera, where they found a welcoming community as they established Benissimo Ristorante & Bar.
"I know Tony and Mario and I've watched the restaurant grow," said Phyllis Galanis. "These are astute businessmen with a love for the community."
Benissimo has changed a bit, getting more dressed up in recent years, but the Italian restaurant remains a neighborhood fixture. Mario and Tony are now planning to bring a new taste sensation to Corte Madera, with a new eatery at the Park Madera shopping center.
"I'm a frequent Benissimo customer and when I was first told the owners were opening this coffee shop, I though it was great. I don't want a chain store there," said Cynthia Rock during a Planning Commission meeting in September. "This is a great thing for our community to have local business owners open another spot for us. I'd like to thank them for investing in the community."
They hope to open the doors to Cafe Verde within the first couple months of 2013. And, as always, the brothers welcome everyone to have a seat, enjoy a bite and make themselves at home. The cafe will serve mostly organic food, according to Tony, including sandwiches and pastries.
The plans for the cafe have called for eight tables, plus counter space inside and seasonal outdoor seating. It's just a short walk from Benissimo, but very different in style.
"This will be totally different than our restaurant," Tony said. "This is a low-price cafe. In this economy, people don't want to spend as much."
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