Chris Scarduzio was sitting in his car not too long ago - as he drives three, four hours a day - and he was taking stock of his work world as a 48-year-old chef:
Mia's at Caesars in Atlantic City. Scarduzio's at Showboat in Atlantic City, closing with the casino on Aug. 31. A casino-restaurant deal on the table in Bucks County. A restaurant under construction in South Philadelphia.
And he got a call from Alberto Guadagnini, his friend for decades. Over the last 40 years, Guadagnini has owned a bunch of restaurants here, including San Marco and La Buca in Center City, Ristorante Alberto in Bala Cynwyd, La Collina in Belmont Hills, and Villa Strafford in Wayne. He currently owns Teca in West Chester with his son, Roberto.
Guadagnini also had a Newtown Square restaurant - which he operated as Alberto's Newtown Squire - sitting empty. Others had run the restaurant more recently as Newtown Grill and Casale.
The property, at 191 S. Newtown Street Rd., is also 12 minutes from Scarduzio's house.
And so, Scarduzio - who most recently also operated the now-closed Table 31 and had a role in the creation of Avance - is packing it all in to work with the Guadagninis on a new restaurant, Teca Newtown Square.
Scarduzio's is winding down. He has notified Caesars that he will relinquish Mia's - which he opened in 2005 - by the end of the year.
He also has bowed out of the project at 12th and Morris Streets. His partners, real estate developers Steve and Tamar Olitsky, understand.
"We're like brothers and we always will be," said Steve Olitsky.
As demo winds down on their building, the Olitskys are looking for a new operator. They have been discreetly gauging interest among the restaurant community for the space, which is 3,500 square feet on two floors, including the basement. The building, with four apartments above, is expected to be ready for occupancy next spring or summer.
Scarduzio said the Newtown Square project involves a full-scale renovation inclusive of all mechanicals in the restaurant, banquet facility, lounge/bar and new garden. It is modeled on Guadagnini's Italian villa/winery, Casali di Bibbiano, in Tuscany.
Scarduzio said Teca Newtown Square will have a huge wine cellar, Neapolitan-style pizza, house-made pastas, whole fish, and moderate prices.