I received an e-mail today about the Boccaccio auction from Tom Iacoboni, who keeps tabs on Little Italy happenings. The once popular restaurant on the corner of Eastern Avenue and Exeter Street shut down after owner Giovanni Rigato died in August ’08. It’s been closed ever since.
Now, the restaurant—lock, stock, and barrel—will be auctioned on Feb. 17 with A.J. Billig & Co. handling the proceedings. The auctioneer’s prose on its website is very persuasive: "Boccaccio Restaurant has been a Baltimore institution for over 17 years featuring Baltimore's finest northern Italian cuisine. ...The property is situated in the heart of Baltimore's most exciting and vibrant redevelopment community." It goes on to say the building is in the Harbor East area.
Of course, the neighborhood has been called Little Italy for decades. But this isn’t the first time someone has wanted to associate with Baltimore’s glitzy neighborhood. The chic, new Milan advertises as being on the "edge of Harbor East and Little Italy."
Yet, a block away Café Gia and Tapabar firmly claim Little Italy as their home. I guess someone is going to have to make a decision soon about what to call that stretch of Eastern Avenue.
Also, while the Boccaccio footprint with its spacious building, liquor license, and rare downtown parking lot seems like a perfect restaurant spot, the auctioneer also assures potential buyers that the "property is suitable for numerous alternative uses including offices and retail."
What would you like to see there?