RIDLEY TOWNSHIP — C. J. DeMarco has fond memories of the days his family operated DeMarco's Pasta and Pub on MacDade Boulevard, not far from the township administration building. But after 15 years the Italian eatery had to leave the site because the business lost its lease. So for the next 17 years DeMarco's operated in the Drexel Hill section of Upper Darby Township.
"But the plan was always to come back (to Ridley) but we never found the right place until this place became available," DeMarco said.
The "right place" DeMarco is speaking about is a landmark building on MacDade at Ohio Avenue in the Milmont Park section of the township. Originally known as DiMatteo's for decades, the restaurant and bar had several other owners before it became available again recently.
The new restaurant will be known as Santino's Tap & Table.
"We are trying to capture the 30 and above crowd," DeMarco said. "Our menu will feature things like scrapple stuffed pork chop and sambuco glazed salmon."
DeMarco and his renovation crew spent a few months giving the old building a new look. But rather than gut the interior and scrap the furnisings, DeMarco opted to refinish. Sanding the wainscoting and table tops and applying a clear protective finish, using the same method on the wood flooring, installing a granite top on the bar, new rest rooms and a fresh coat of paint on the exterior of the building, going from white stucco to a medium beige. New glass doors brighten up the interior for the lunch crowd. A new parking lot completes the exterior work.
"I don't want to see another sander in my life," DeMarco joked.
At the rear of the building is a staircase leading to a second floor apartment which DeMarco is turning into rooms for private dining and a family dining room complete with video games for kids. "This way the kids won't be disturbing other diners," he explained.
"We will have a late night menu that will run to midnight.We are a restaurant first," he added.
DeMarco, 37, lives in Chester Heights but grew up in the township. He attended the former Our Lady of Perpetual Help School and Archmere Academy. He gave college a try as a business major.
"But every time I had a choice of going to classes or going to work, I went to work," he said.
Santino's will be open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight during the week, and to 2 a.m. on weekends.