Restaurant Revisited: The Ambush at Tornatore's Pizzeria
It's no secret that Robert Irvine does the impossible every weekend when he rescues another struggling eatery from the brink of failure. But on tonight's brand-new episode, he also did the unprecedented: For the first time in 11 seasons, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team ambushed a business owner who wasn't expecting or prepared for their arrival — or the mission.
Within moments of Robert running through the doors of Tornatore's Pizzeria, owner Denny Tornatore struggled to hold back tears, and while he was indeed surprised to learn what was about to go down at his Orlando, Fla., eatery over the next several days, he welcomed Robert and team, optimistic about what they could do to help him and his wife, Gina. While the ambush indeed provided shock-and-awe value, it also forced the Restaurant: Impossible crew to work within all-new time constraints, as they didn't have the luxury of a prep day before filming; every minute counted as they hauled in equipment and set up materials. No matter the hectic schedule, Robert, in true Irvine fashion, successfully completed his mission, and with wow-worthy results. Read on below to hear from Denny and find out how Tornatore's is doing today.
"That first day open [after the renovation] was the best day the store has had in the six years I have been open," Denny explains, "followed by our best week ever by a lot of money." Given how busy the pizzeria is today, he explains, "If you don't have a reservation, then you will be waiting for a seat."
In terms of the aesthetics at the pizzeria, Denny notes, "I thought what I had was good, [but] thank goodness a pro designed this place now, because it looks so much better." He adds that losing the televisions inside the restaurant "has really helped in many ways."
The menu at Tornatore's Pizzeria is now a mix of Robert's dishes "plus some other new dishes," according to Denny, though he says: "We are using Robert's sauce. It's funny the difference it makes in all dishes. Again, I thought it was good [before], but now it is great."
Denny admits, "This experience changed me the most," adding that it's affected him both personally and professionally. "I think before I talk now. I listen to everyone who has anything to say," he explains. "I try to put myself in others' shoes, and see why they think and feel the way they do. Doing this has made me a much better person and businessman."
In regard to Pasquale, Denny says, "Pasquale and I have both been busy with our stores," though he adds that they're making time to "talk on the phone now on the regular."
As for his relationship with Gina, Denny says, "My home life is back to how it should be. … We are making a lot more time for each other."