Zeppe’s Tavern performed at its opening gala this week. Originally expected to take the stage last December, Zeppe Restaurant and Bar wowed audiences with its rock band debut on Wednesday in northern Naples.
Zeppe’s has introduced its first location outside of Ohio to replace Naples Brewhouse, which closed last year in the former space of The Brass Tap at Gateway Shoppes in North Bay on the northwest corner of Wiggins Pass Road and US 41. The new, locally owned pizza bar, promoted With the slogan “Eat, Drink and Rock & Roll,” it has 30 locations in seven counties around Cleveland, and is enthusiastically celebrated as the rock ‘n’ roll capital of the world.
Zeppe’s owner, Joe Ciresi, who owns homes in north Naples and northeastern Ohio, began the process 15 months ago to bring his place to Florida. “I think it’s life in today’s world,” he said. “The licensing was a little slower than I expected, but that’s it. Everything we touched took longer. It was just crazy. It didn’t matter if it was a pizza table or if it was air conditioning. The intervals were unusual.”
Similar to what most startups have experienced lately, Zeppe has been caught up in supply chain bottlenecks. “We’re still waiting on the air curtains for the entrances,” Cersei said. “Our registration hasn’t arrived yet. We asked for it six months ago. Everyone is doing their best and it is a little out of their control, but that’s what I think. I am very happy to be open.”
The opening turnout exceeded Ciresi’s expectations. “We are just excited to be here. They have been waiting as long to come see us as we have been waiting for them to come see us.”
Southwest Florida legions of Ohio transplants in particular have been anticipating the Zeppe opening for months. Local resident Laura Climo, who moved here from northeastern Ohio about 30 years ago, didn’t miss Zeppe’s opening day.
“It was as good as we remember from Cleveland,” said Climo, who dined on zepperoni rolls and a melted meatball while her husband Jim ordered his go-to: pepperoni pizza. “We know how good Zeppe’s pizza is, so it’s hard not to get pizza. Zeppe’s was our favorite pizza in Ohio. It’s great.”
Although Clemo said that she and her husband are good fans of thin-crust pizza, there’s just something irresistible about Zeppe’s signature crunchy, scalloped pizza. “The crust is very good,” she said. “For me, it’s all about the pizza crust. If the crust wasn’t good, I wouldn’t go back there for another pizza. It was delicious.”
Clemo was also impressed by Zeppe’s reasonable prices and large covered patio on the Naples location. “We’ll go there a lot,” she said.
Dennis Schnabarger, who lives in Gulf Harbor neighborhood a mile away from Zeppe’s, also enjoy opening night at restaurant and ribbon. “I’ve been waiting patiently for something decent to open thereShe said. “Actually, I should say ‘we.’ The whole neighborhood was looking forward to their opening. Most of us were there last night.”
schnabarger he has the Hot Nashville Chicken Slider With French Fries And Her Husband’s Was original zip Italian sub. Considering it was opening night, they didn’t expect to enjoy the food and prompt service, she said He said. “Staff behavior on the first night Wonderfully. We enjoyed the service, atmosphere and food. wedges he is truly Fun place and I hope it stays for a long time. This is exactly what our area need. I hope it brings more tenants to this mall.”
Ciresi said the new Zeppe is similar to what’s served in Ohio, but the Neapolitan menu includes some fresh additions like herb grouper garnish, ceviche appetizer, grouper taco, grouper sandwich and lobster pizza with white garlic sauce. “We’ve made some changes to the menu to give it a southwest Florida feel,” he said.
Named after Led Zeppelin, Zeppe is the first concert Ciresi has attended in over 40 years in Ohio. On Zeppe’s wall in Naples is a framed pair of Daisy Duke shorts signed by all four of the original members of the British band. Wall décor includes classic rock LP album covers and rock memorabilia that Ciresi has collected over the years, including guitars signed by rockers like Bob Seger, who owns a vacation home in Naples.
“Everything is real, everything is signed and certified,” he said. “This is all real stuff. We have Steve Miller’s guitar in there. All the Eagles signed that guitar. There’s cool stuff. Tom Petty, Karim, Clapton, Floyd, and then at the front door all the Beatles signed a dollar bill. I love rock and roll.” “
The venue has multiple video screens showing bands in concert as music is heard throughout the 150+ seat space. “Whatever you hear on our sound system, you watch on our televisions,” Cersei said.
Zeppe’s, 895 Wiggins Pass Road, is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, and 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday. “That’s not consistent,” Cersei said. “We try to feel it. Whatever our guests want, that’s what we will do.”