Salvatore "Sasa" Savarese is what's known as a Renaissance man. Born in Meta di Sorrento on the Gulf of Naples, "Sasa," as he's known by his friends and family, spent decades racking up experiences around the world, cooking and painting. Sasa opened restaurants in Venezuela and Italy, finally winding up in South Florida with his wife, Loiris.
In 2016, Sasa and Loiris decided to open a café and gallery in funky little Hollywood, Florida.
They found a little house to rent just off the city's main business drags of Hollywood Boulevard and Harrison Street and called it Sasa Café Italiano.
"My husband had owned restaurants before, but he wanted to open a place to showcase his art," Loiris says, explaining that they rented a house instead of a storefront because they wanted to make the space something special. "We didn't want to be just another regular restaurant," she says,
The little café morphed into an Italian restaurant after customers requested Sasa make some of his dishes from Italy. Sasa took their advice — with a caveat. "My husband wanted to specialize. He wanted to serve only pasta and salad. "It's simple and everyone loves it," says Loiris.
Ravioli at Sasa Café Italiano
Photo courtesy of Sasa Café Italiano
Over the years, regulars suggested additions, and the Savareses complied. "Some people asked for wine, so we got wine. People wanted dessert, so I said, 'Okay, I'll make a cake,'" Loiris says. "In the process, we made friends. This restaurant has been created by all the people of Hollywood."
Six years later, Sasa Café Italiano will close on July 30 to make way for a multifamily apartment building. "The little house is being demolished. There's nothing we can do," says Loiris, adding that construction was approved months ago, with the understanding that the café could stay until December.
But construction was pushed up, and the couple was informed they need to vacate by the end of the month.
"We knew this was going to happen, but we thought we would have enough time to find another place. We thought we would have time to re-create the cafe. But we were given short notice, so we just don't have time," Loiris explains.
She says that she and Sasa vow to reopen. "We're packing up everything and putting it in a warehouse."
They're looking in Hollywood and Hallandale for a space that's as special as the tiny house they called home for six years. "It's not just the food. For us, it's the entire experience. We're having difficulty finding something that meets our requirements" she says.
Still, she and Sasa are convinced that the new space will be even better than the current one. "Whatever happens, happens for a reason. We're moving on to something better," she says.
You have about two weeks left to enjoy the pasta and hospitality of the current Sasa Café Italiano (which New Times
named "Best Restaurant in Hollywood"
this year). While you're there, be sure to leave your name and email address with Loiris.
"When we find a new spot, we are going to invite all our customers to an opening party," she promises.
Sasa Café Italiano. 2001 Van Buren St., Hollywood; 754-800-5959; sasacafeitaliano.com. Closes after service on July 30.