Vinnie Bruno, Bruno’s Little Italy

Project Info

Project Description

SITUATION

For 70 years, Bruno’s Little Italy has been Central Arkansas’s premier destination for authentic Neapolitan Italian cuisine. Arkansas Capital is proud to have partnered with the Bruno family in the restaurant’s October 2013 relocation to 310 Main Street in downtown Little Rock.

According to family lore, the Bruno’s ancestors cooked for the kings of Italy, mastering the authentic recipes of Italian cuisine handed down through the family. In the late 1900s, brothers Giovanni and Gennaro Bruno, new immigrants from the province of Naples, opened one of the first pizzerias in New York City. Giovanni’s son, Jimmy Bruno, began working in the pizzeria at age six. Years later, Jimmy was drafted in World War II, where he served as chef of the mess hall at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock.

After the war, Jimmy moved to Chicago and opened the first pizzeria on Wabash Avenue on the city’s famous “Loop.” But he quickly discovered turbulent times, with organized crime trying to take over many legitimate businesses. Jimmy moved back to Arkansas and opened the “Little Italy Café” in North Little Rock’s Levy subdivision in 1947. Because of its popularity, he ran out of space and moved it to Roosevelt Road in Little Rock, changing the name to Bruno’s Little Italy. The restaurant later moved to locations on Old Forge Drive and Bowman Road before the 2013 move to Main Street.

SOLUTION

Because of Arkansas Capital, the Bruno family was able to get the additional financing for the kitchen equipment they needed to make the move to Main Street.

SUCCESS

Customers who were children and grandchildren at the time of Bruno’s opening are still regulars today, now making new memories with their children and grandchildren in the cozy surroundings of a family-owned restaurant. The menu features delicious food made from the same recipes today as those brought to America by Giovanni Sr. and Gennaro over 100 years ago. Customer favorites include Bruno’s homemade marinara and meat sauces, lasagna, ravioli, manicottis, Italian sausage, cheesecake, cannoli, and its best seller — pizza.

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