Bruschetta and arancini are seen at LaGuardia's in Windsor, June 11, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Landmark Italian eatery marks 40 years downtown

Restaurants come and go, but one downtown Windsor establishment is celebrating a milestone.

LaGuardia’s Italian Cuisine, on Pitt Street East since its inception in 1979, is marking its 40th anniversary this month. The restaurant has been in the same spot with the same ownership that entire time.

The anniversary was marked with a media event Tuesday morning, during which congratulatory proclamations from Windsor West MP Brian Masse and MPP Lisa Gretzky were presented, along with a special commendation from the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association (DWBIA). Samples of the restaurant’s popular dishes were also served.

Michael Ciliberto, the owner of LaGuardia’s, considered himself lucky the restaurant has lasted this long, as downtown Windsor has gone through many changes in those 40 years.

“We’ve seen the good days and the bad days and we just keep moving forward,” said Ciliberto. “We make sure that everything still continues the way we want it to go.”

Ciliberto’s son Joe has been with the restaurant for 24 years and is the head chef. While he understands the demands that come with such a position, the two things that stood out for Joe were the family’s ability to keep everything together, and their pride in including locally-grown and Ontario-produced ingredients in their dishes.

“What my father started 40 years ago is what I want to continue,” said Joe. “And now, quality, local food, and things like that supporting the local community are something that we pride ourselves on for sure. I think that’s been part of our success.”

Windsor Ward 3 Councillor Rino Bortolin, a restauranteur himself, said a restaurant such as LaGuardia’s that has stuck around for the long haul is a rarity in the often-volatile food service business.

“They’ve had their ups and downs with recessions and all kinds of challenges in the restaurant business, and they’ve stayed,” said Bortolin. “They stayed and they worked it out and they hashed it out, and they’ve been able to persevere and still be at the top of their game.”

LaGuardia’s officially celebrates 40 years with a dining event on Thursday, June 20. A five-course meal will be served for $115 a person and is on a reservation-only basis. For contact information, visit the restaurant’s official website.

 

Michael Ciliberto, owner of LaGuardia Italian Cuisine, right, holds up a 40th-anniversary plaque presented by Brian Yeomans, board chairman of the DWBIA, as head chef Joe Ciliberto, left, looks on, June 11, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.