Rosmarino Osteria Italiana, formerly of Carlton, will be opening in the former Darby's and Cancun site on First Street

GARY ALLEN - The long effort to install an Italian restaurant on First Street may come to fruition in the next several months.

A long vacant building will finally have new life as an Italian restaurant from Carlton will be coming to Newberg.

The co-owners of the building, Tom Tesmer and Terry Emery, said they have signed a lease with the owners of the Carlton restaurant Agrivino to open up in the building on 714 East First St. Tesmer said Dario and Sheena Pisoni signed a lease on Oct. 15. The new name of the restaurant will be Rosmarino Osteria Italiana and the owners hope to open around Valentine's Day 2019.

The building has been vacant since 2015, when the Mexican restaurant Cancun Restaurant closed without notice. Tesmer and Emery purchased the building with plans to restore the structure back to how it originally appeared in the 1920s when it was built.

Dario and Sheena Pisoni said they decided to come to Newberg because of all the support they received from Tesmer and Emery, as well as other businesses and wineries. They added that for the past two years they were asked to come to the city to fill a missing niche. They decided to move to Newberg to give the city "the best pure Italian cuisine."

Their kitchen in Carlton was becoming too small for the volume of business they were experiencing and they settled on Newberg after looking at other locations for expansion.

They said their current restaurant offers dinners Thursday through Saturday, and are "famous" for their five course wine pairing dinners. During the meals, Dario explains how the food and wine are paired with each other.

"We are famous also for our winemaker's dinner series (on Fridays), where we showcase local wine producers, creating a custom made menu based on their wines," they said.

Sundays are more casual at the restaurant; they are open from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and serve handmade pizza and gnocchi.

"This became very famous lately and we are very happy to see that simplicity sometimes is what people are seeking," the Pisoni's said.

The restaurant also serves lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with a simple menu of Italian cheese and meat plates, pasta, risotto and salads.

"Everything here is handmade and from scratch," the couple said. "We produce all our pastas and sauces."

After purchasing the building several years ago, Tesmer and Emery removed layers of paint, three layers of roofing and a lot of the dirt and grime left from the many years it served as a restaurant. It was the Green Lantern Cafe in the 1940s, and from the 1950s through the 1990s it was Darby's, a breakfast favorite. Once Darby's closed, the Cancun Restaurant took over the space.

Tesmer and Emery said they were dedicated to opening an Italian restaurant in the location, especially after the only Italian eatery, Pasquale's closed several years ago.

"Newberg needs a good Italian restaurant. We do not have any around here," Tesmer said in December. "It will not be a five star, tourism type of place, but one where people can sit down and enjoy a good Italian meal and not spend too much."

The owners redesigned the building, which now includes large glass French-style doors that open the main dining room to First Street in good weather. A patio has been constructed behind the establishment, with ample room for eating outside when the weather is nice. Tesmer and Emery decided to leave the old Darby's sign hanging on the back wall as part of the buildings' historical memory. New flooring and other interior redesigns were also completed.

The Pisonis said the new restaurant will continue the same concepts as Agriviino in Carlton, but will be open one more day a week, likely on Mondays for people to come in for a less formal setting than the five-course dinner.

"We would like to give the chance to everybody to enjoy our cuisine and recipes," the Pisonis said.

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