Marion has a new Italian restaurant and pizzeria which is already garnering rave reviews from patrons.

Located at 2845 Sugar Hill Road, Luisa’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria opened Thursday, Dec. 13 at the Grandview Station shopping center.

This new eatery has a long and extensive menu with 13 different types of salad including Caesar, Greek and caprese. The appetizers include garlic knots, mozzarella sticks, fried calamari and various soups. You can get wings with nine different dressings for dipping. There are numerous chicken and veal dishes and all kinds of pastas such as angel hair, fettuccini, linguini, rigatoni and gluten-free. The baked pasta includes lasagna, stuffed shells, ravioli, baked spaghetti and gnocchi al forno. You can choose from a wide assortment of pizzas, which are made fresh every day. Stromboli and calzones are baked fresh as well. Luisa’s also serves up Philly cheese steaks and submarine sandwiches. For dessert, they have such favorites as cannoli, cheesecake and tiramisu.

The roots of this new eatery for Marion go all the way back to the city of Napoli, which is called Naples here in the United States. It is also widely known as the birthplace of pizza.

Brothers Frank and Tony Poppante, along with their cousin, Frank Scotto Rinaldi, have worked to make and serve Italian food for more than 30 years now. All three of them are natives of Monte Di Procida, a small town near Napoli. The brothers and their cousin learned the recipes for good Italian food from Luisa. She is the mother of Frank and Tony Poppante and the aunt of Frank Scotto Rinaldi.

Frank Poppante said his mother’s recipes have been passed down through generations and are used by the family to this day. In addition, his brother studied at a culinary school in Rome.

The brothers and their cousin started working in the family-owned restaurants in New Jersey and New York, but have lived in North Carolina for the last 25 years. Today, Tony owns and operates an Italian restaurant in Hickory called DaVinci’s while cousin Frank has a restaurant in Winston-Salem. Luisa, who is now in her 80s, spends half of her year in Italy and the other half in North Carolina.

Now, Frank Poppante has opened his new Italian eatery in Marion.

When asked why he chose to start his place here, he said, “It is a nice place to stay and live. There was an opportunity here. People were saying we need a nice Italian restaurant.”

Poppante said he would also run into people here in Marion who had relocated from the Northern states like New Jersey and missed eating the authentic Italian dishes they remember.

“This is a beautiful place to live,” he said, referring to the mountains in McDowell.

He added his mother’s Italian recipes have been passed down through generations and used by the family to this day. Everything is made fresh daily.

“It’s the traditional recipes that have been with us for many years,” he said, adding some others were learned in the culinary school.

Some of the different types of pizza are New York-style (cheese only), margherita, Hawaiian, meat lover’s and vegan.

Every day, Giovanni Pugliesi works hard to make them from scratch.

Since Luisa’s opened on Thursday, Dec. 13, the place has been full of customers. The eatery has around 28 to 30 employees and it can seat up to 94 people.

“I try to make everybody happy because over the years people like this or like that and we try to make everybody happy,” said Poppante.

And numerous customers have walked away happy, according to the reviews online.

“One of the best Italian restaurants I've eaten in a long time has great pizza the best New York cheesecake that I've tasted since New York,” reads a review on www.yelp.com.

“Such friendly staff and DELICIOUS pizza! Also, the pizzas are huge. Can't wait to go back - I hope this pizza place stays :-),” reads another review on www.yelp.com.

“Great food!!! Best Italian food in Marion NC .... Fast service and super friendly staff,” wrote Ray Hollifield on their Facebook page.

“Phenomenal is the best word to describe my experience,” wrote Melissa Smith on their Facebook page. “It was the best eggplant parmesan I have ever eaten. The tomato soup was beyond excellent. Top it off with reasonable pricing and friendly service. I look forward to many visits!”

But there is more in store for Luisa’s. Poppante said he plans to add an extensive wine list featuring cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, Chianti, Riesling, casteggio and moscato. Naturally, they will be wines from his native country. There will also be a good selection of domestic, imported and craft beers.

“Beer is good for the pizza and wine is good for any Italian meal,” he said.

Judging from the crowds, Luisa’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria seems to be off to a good start. Poppante said he and his staff are ready to serve up a taste of Italy.

“I am very happy and glad to be here and the people of Marion are very nice people,” he said. “They appreciate a good Italian meal and good food.”

For more information, visit the Web site: http://www.luisaspizzamarion.com. You can also visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LuisasPizzaMarion/?epa=SEARCH_BOX.

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