By Jaimie M. Engle

Fia’s Ristorante and Pizzeria in Melbourne

As you step through the glass front doors of Fia’s Restaurant in Melbourne, the aroma of sweet basil, stewing tomatoes, and pizza dough greet you like a fond friend. Chris and Venessa Paladino say that growing up surrounded by family in the restaurant business inspired them to follow that path in life. “As a kid, I watched my Unlce Savaro ‘Danny’ Genna prepare meals from his heart that made people happy,” said Chris during a short break between the lunch and dinner rush. “I clearly remember the distinct sounds and smells of the kitchen, and that’s where I find comfort still to this day.”

Seared tuna with shoestring vegetables and spaghetti squash paired with a spicy tomato and garlic infused plum sauce.

Seared tuna with shoestring vegetables and spaghetti squash paired with a spicy tomato and garlic infused plum sauce.

Serving the finest in Italian food, each dish is prepared from scratch using only premium ingredients and the freshest meats, poultry fish and produce available. After more than 10 years as a restaurateur, Chris has found that two things create customers for life – quality and service, and that’s where he keeps his focus. While he desires to open a second location, he is still striving for perfection within the first. Once that’s achieved, he will be ready to duplicate the precise systems and recipes that make Fia’s Restaurant a success.

Fia’s most popular dishes are the eggplant rollatini, eggplant lasagna, and classic lasagna, and of course the New York style pizza pies to include traditional Sicilian. The most difficult dish to create is the Paleo-eggplant lasagna, a dairy, gluten, and legume free lasagna described by Chris as “a process, including handmade cauliflower to replace the ‘bread’crumbs.” Fia’s Restaurant offers a complete Paleo menu and meal plan, consisting only of meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and certain oils.

Chris Paladino

Chris Paladino

In addition to the restaurant and Paleo plans, Fia’s boasts a full liquor bar and live entertainment. The stunning bar with mirrored bar back and framed photographs of the New York city scape, provides a relaxed atmosphere enhanced by mellow music that appeals to a broad audience. “The music simply adds to the ambiance, unlike in some places where it becomes noise you have to scream over.” Chris realizes from the front door to the final salutation, the experience of visiting his restaurant, even for take-out, is what separates his establishment from every other Italian dining eatery in the county.

The most rewarding aspect is customer compliments. Those moments make the job worthwhile, reminding Chris of Uncle Danny’s passion and satisfaction, which are at the core of his business.

Fia’s Ristorante and Pizzeria

Address: 4980 N. Wickham Road, Suite 101, Melbourne
Phone: (321) 610-3961
Web Address:

Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Bar hours vary.

This article appears in the January 2015 issue of SpaceCoast Living.
Did you like what you read here?
Subscribe to SpaceCoast Living