Business and life partners Elmer and Delmy Melendez celebrated the relocation of their upscale Italian eatery Dario’s Ristorante from River Street to 655 Main Street in Fitchburg with a ribbon cutting on April 26. (GARY FOURNIER/SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE)
The Twin Cities dining scene has exploded over the last several months, with many new eateries opening their doors and others either reopening or relocating.
Dario’s Ristorante recently opened at 655 Main St. in Fitchburg after relocating from River Street. The owners, partners in business and life, Elmer and Delmy Melendez, have lived in the area since 2005 and also own Tacos Tequilas Mexican Cocina, also on Main Street, and Bandoleros Mexican Grill in Devens.
The couple celebrated the move and expansion of Dario’s with a ribbon cutting on April 26 that was attended by local and state dignitaries and many others. When asked how business at the sleek and modern upscale Italian restaurant is going so far, Elmer Melendez said on Friday morning that although it was quite the challenging process to get it open, everything is “excellent.”
“I am happy, the community has been very supportive, people who have been supporting us for years,” he shared. “The community deserves to have a nice restaurant. My wife and kids, our dream was to have this. We worked hard to achieve this goal.”
They made the difficult decision to close the Lunenburg location of Dario’s, which was open for 16 years, to focus on their other endeavors and offer a larger seating capacity and “better ambiance” in Fitchburg.
The co-owners of Oliver’s Cafe in Leominster, Francisco Oliveira and his nephew Alan Oliveira, launched a second location of their eatery at 44 Old Princeton Road in Fitchburg at the beginning of February, Oliver’s Cafe by the Falls. Francisco Oliveira said they “want to express our gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of the growing community of Emerson Falls” and noted that the property owner Daniel Nigrosh and his family “are doing a terrific job.”
“Oliver’s cafe takes pride in providing great service to all of our clients and are excited to have the chance to work at Emerson Falls,” he shared. “Our cafe includes a lovely outdoor seating area with a beautiful view of [the falls]. We are always looking for new ways to improve and expand our services and hopefully in the near future, we will be adding new items to our restaurant.”
Both of their locations offer a plethora of breakfast and lunch options including egg sandwiches, bagels, baked goods, salads, paninis, and of course coffee, to name but a few menu items. Francisco Oliveira said that they want to thank “Fitchburg City Hall for the support shown to us over the past few months.”
Brazilian Flavor Bakery & Restaurant at 377 John Fitch Highway opened with a ribbon cutting early February, one of now four locations in the state that also includes Clinton, Marlborough, and Quincy, Brazilian specialties such as coffee, baked goods, coxinhas, and more including pizza and other American fare is featured on the expansive menu with grab-n-go, dine in, and self-service buffet options.
Rise & Grind Cafe also recently opened a second location. The 805 Main St. Fitchburg and 507r Lancaster St. Leominster spots provide a full coffee menu and specialty drinks such as smoothies, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, salads, and more with plenty of space to sit and relax, work, or study.
El Toro Steakhouse moved into the old Dario’s space on River Street last fall, a gourmet restaurant that has been described as a hidden gem, and Kiki’s Ramen House opened in the beginning of the year in the same plaza as Mill City Pub at the corner of John Fitch Highway and Airport Road.
The Finicky Fork Catering Co. recently launched a new business endeavor, The Pauper’s Pantry, at their 199 Main St. location and they also set up inside the taproom at River Styx Brewing at 166 Boulder Drive. Offerings include crepes, French loaf pizzas, baked goods, and of course overstuffed pauper’s pockets in mouth watering options including the Meatloaf Mash, Eggplant Lasagna, and Reckless Reuben, to name a few.
The Savory Skillet relocated from Ashburnham to 400 Summer St. in Fitchburg last summer and The Cellar at 14 Mill St., formerly the Wine Cellar, and Melao by Munchies at 27 Airport Rd. that offers authentic Puerto Rican infused plates, both launched last year.
George’s Hot Dog Stand, a Fitchburg landmark for over 70 years, is in the process of reopening at 200 Summer St. A small addition is being put on it, speculated to be bathrooms, and Dominican restaurant Mamajuana on Main Street has a banner hanging out front saying it will be opening soon.
Things are hopping on the Leominster side as well. Mellos Mexican Bar & Grill opened in October of last year at 889 Central St. and down the road at 285 Central St., China City recently reopened following a 2021 fire allegedly caused by arson, much to the delight of their customers.
“I’m so happy to be in the same plaza as the guys at girls at China City,” one woman posted on social media. “Just re-opened and better than ever! Thank you for my crab Rangoon! It’s delicious!”
Rio Bravos Tacos and Tequilas is moving in where T.G.I. Friday’s used to be at 9 Orchard Hill Park Drive, next to Olive Garden. This will be the Mexican chain’s first location in Massachusetts, with the others in Connecticut, Maine, and New York. The exterior of the Leominster spot was painted yellow a few weeks ago.
Taco John’s, the popular quick-service restaurant chain with stores in 22 states, will soon open franchise locations in Leominster and Lawrence. The Central Mass spot will be located at the former J.N. Phillips Auto Glass store at 536 North Main St. It was originally scheduled to debut at the end of March, but according to a spokesperson the opening has been delayed until late May.
Each of the Twin Cities has food truck festivals coming up, with Fitchburg’s scheduled for May 20 from noon to 7 p.m. and Leominster’s annual downtown event slated for Sept. 8 with a rain date of Sept. 15. The Fitchburg Food Truck Festival will be held downtown at Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority, 166 Boulder Drive, and feature 19 food trucks, dozens of vendors, and a craft fair.
For more information and tickets visit eventbrite.com/e/fitchburg-food-truck-festival-tickets-551807891257.