This November, Café Largo will celebrate 25 years of serving fine Italian family cuisine in downtown Key Largo. Owner and operator Robert DiGiorgio comes from a family of Italian restaurant owners and he carried that tradition on with two successful local restaurants, Café Largo and the Bayside Grill.
While growing up in Miami, DiGiorgio, spent many weekends in the Keys with his parents and sister. Robert liked the lifestyle and in 1992, he and his father Pat DiGiorgio acquired BNG Automotive in Key Largo. The pair spent six months renovating and transforming the former Goodyear tire store and in November of the same year, Café Largo opened its doors for the first time.
Asked about his success, DiGiorgio said, “Basic Italian food, the traditional items, is really just what we make at home and share with other people.”
“We’re also getting creative, introducing the local seafood.” he added. “I like to introduce not just Italian but also Mediterranean items now. Spanish is similar to Italian, and I like to sometimes introduce that, the seafoods, the shellfish, the herbs, the spices, the rice, different sauces. Instead of strict traditional Italian, we like to come up with Mediterranean flavors that might interest the customers.”
At Café Largo it’s all about family. It’s a family business and the community is part of that family.
“You don’t know if my wife Angel or one of my daughters will seat you when you come in,” DiGiorgio said. “My daughters like the business a lot, the social aspect of it. They love knowing and interacting with the customers so it’s not work for them.”
Some of the earliest customers are still loyal patrons today.
“We’ve been coming here for 25 years,” said Gail Gordon. “And we’re always greeted with a smile and good service.”
Gail and Ted Gordon, Tavernier residents and owners of the Florida Fence Corp., also like to bring friends and out-of-town visitors. Gail favors stuffed Italian mushrooms and sautéed spinach while Ted likes the veal Marsala. “And if you like tomato cream sauce, theirs is the best,” Gail said. “Also, they’re very accommodating for special dietary needs.”
Asked about the upcoming festivities, DiGiorgio said, “It’s important to give something back after 25 years of support from locals, especially now, after Hurricane Irma, which is a trying time.”
As part of the anniversary celebration in November, Café Largo will offer a free glass of DiGiorgio family wine from Australia with every entrée purchased. This is from another branch of the DiGiorgio family, which settled in southern Australia and started a farm and later a vineyard near Adelaide. On Nov. 17 and 18, patrons can enjoy complimentary wine tastings. Reservations are suggested but not required.
Operating a restaurant isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s an achievement when a restaurants make it to the five- or 10-year mark, let alone to 25. And that’s definitely worth celebrating, and Café Largo will do so all November long.
DiGiorgio’s Café Largo is on the bayside of U.S. 1 at mile marker 99.5. For more information, go to www.keylargo-cafelargo.com.