Restaurant News & Reviews

Relive that time when a Lexington restaurant made national crime news

Gennaro Galtieri, former owner of Lexitalia Ristorante, in his home kitchen preparing an Italian meal for his family in 1983. Galtieri’s food will be celebrated in an icons dinner at Azur at 7 p.m. on March 28.
Gennaro Galtieri, former owner of Lexitalia Ristorante, in his home kitchen preparing an Italian meal for his family in 1983. Galtieri’s food will be celebrated in an icons dinner at Azur at 7 p.m. on March 28. 1983 Staff File Photo

Azur will hold another Icons dinner celebrating long-gone Lexington restaurants on March 28. This one features a menu reminiscent of Lexitalia Ristorante, a once popular Italian restaurant in Gardenside.

Lexitalia became one of the most notorious restaurants in town after owner Gennaro “Jerry” Galtieri was arrested by the FBI in the Pizza Connection II heroin case in 1988.

Galtieri was charged as part of a conspiracy involving 941 grams of a compound containing heroin. The case spun out of the original Pizza Connection conspiracy involving New York pizza parlors that acted as fronts for heroin from Italy.

Galtieri was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison. The restaurant stayed open for a while but closed after a few years.

But enough of that ...

Azur’s dinner menu focuses on the Italian hospitality not the criminal notoriety, with four courses of favorites, including Chicken Armando and Gennaro’s Cannoli.

The dinner is $45 per person, plus tax and tip. Call 859-296-1007.

Whatever happened to Galtieri? The restaurateur is back; Galtieri is making his famous cheesecake which is available at Azur and Merrick Inn. To place an order, call 859-539-5134.

If you’re looking for more of the old Lexitalia food, check out Mark Kakar’s Paisano’s Italian on Nicholasville Road. “I trained those boys,” Galtieri said. “That’s my sauce. ... You could say that’s Lexitalia.”

Galtieri also can be found many days hanging out with others from the old Lexington restaurant crowd, including former Bravo Pitino’s and Guiseppe’s owner Jodi DiRamo, at Country Cookin’, a buffet at 1801 Alexandria Drive.

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