He learned from his mother that a restaurant was a friendly place for family and friends to gather and enjoy a meal made only from fresh ingredients. Dining was a time of camaraderie.
Costagliola left his native Italy in his 40s to start a new life following divorce. He started out in Baltimore and then he and a partner opened a restaurant in Virginia where he lived for four years. The real turning point, though, was a vacation to Bonita Springs. He was a man in love.
“It was a community where people said, ‘good morning,’ just like my village in Italy,” Costagliola said.
He bought out his partner in Virginia, moved to Bonita Springs and opened his first pizza restaurant. It was so popular he was encouraged to open at the present location just off West Terry at Tamiami Trail on the plaza corner. He named it Ristorante Enrico.
“I still cook like my mother with only the freshest ingredients,” Costagliola said. “Each morning at 7 a.m. I make the pasta sauce, the basis for many of the recipes.
“While it’s cooking, I also clean and scrub. My restaurant is my home; my employees and customers are family; for them, only the best in a clean and cheerful restaurant.”
He makes all ingredients from scratch and emphasizes the use of only virgin olive oil from Greece.
“Every meal is a great meal when it’s made fresh, you can’t go wrong,” Costagliola said.
He customizes dishes for those with calorie concerns saying, “a great Italian meal can be a healthy meal.”
The restaurant is his life. For vacations, he enjoys the company of his two daughters who travel to Bonita Springs from Italy. The beach is special. A good glass of wine is also a pleasure. He spends seven days a week in the restaurant, cooking special dishes, greeting diners and just making sure his guests are enjoying their wine and their generous meal. Daily specials are quite reasonable for lunch. Portions are always generous. Customers praise him for the value of his meals.
“I am grateful to the Bonita Springs community and Bonita Bay,” he says, “for enjoying Italian meals, cooked only with fresh ingredients, and telling their friends. They are my family.”
Ristorante Enrico is in its fourth year, with original employees still working together to serve lunch and dinner. Costagliola has a few renovations in mind for the near future. He stays focused on his kitchen and the customers flowing in and out of the restaurant. He makes sure every little detail works together for the customer’s enjoyment. His ready smile and Italian accent make each guest feel welcome as he walks to each table to ensure everything is perfect. His food represents his love for them and the life he’s found in Bonita Springs. Stop in and say a friend sent you. The aroma and welcome will keep you there.