Evino Restaurant will open in early July to serve Italian cuisine in Ramona at the location of the former Amici Pizza Pasta & Subs.
Owner Steve Dickus said the restaurant will offer a full-service, upscale but casual environment with beer, wine and low-alcohol spirits.
“I like to say we’re a restaurant that’s mostly Italian influenced,” Dickus said. “I don’t want it to be a cliché Italian restaurant with tchotchkes on the wall. This restaurant will be high quality, simple, rustic ingredients.
Evino was introduced to the community as the “mystery restaurant” during the May 7 Taste of Ramona event. The restaurant served a sample marinara sauce at its location in the Albertsons Mall at 1429 Main St. Dickus said the tasting was well received.
The Orange County resident entered the restaurant industry at the age of 14, first as a dishwasher and then working his way up to waiter and waiter. He focused on running a healthcare business for 20 years, then returned as a restaurateur in 2007 to open his first restaurant, Pizza e Vino, in Rancho Santa Margarita.
Pizza e Vino was the first restaurant in Orange County to be certified as a true Neapolitan pizzeria by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana of Naples, Italy, Dickus said. It was there that he discovered the charm of wood-fired ovens that produce very thin pizzas cooked for 90 seconds at 900 degrees. Other dishes include wild gulf shrimp creole, beef tenderloin carpaccio and fire-roasted artichokes.
Dickus then opened other restaurants in Ladera Ranch, Paso Robles and Dana Point. His last restaurant, Whitestone Restaurant & Bar at Dana Point, sold out in 2020 just before COVID hit.
He said he came to Ramona because he was looking for a new neighborhood that wasn’t “so saturated with every kind of restaurant imaginable.”
“I love making a change in a community and bringing something that no one has done,” said Dickus, owner of restaurant parent company Viamark Corp. at Dana Point.
Dickus also discovered he liked the place after visiting some friends who live in Ramona and noticed how much it looked like Paso Robles.
“I had no idea what Ramona was,” he said. “I was amazed on the drive here that it’s like the central coast. The landscapes, the vineyards intrigued me. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t a desert town. It reminded me of Paso Robles at the start of its growth.
“I haven’t had a chance to go wine tasting, so I’m looking forward to it,” he added.
At Evino, Dickus plans to offer an extensive wine list from around the world as well as a selection of local wines. It also plans to offer a diverse selection of beers.
Starting June 1, he plans to hire front and back of house staff. After opening, only dinners will be served Wednesday through Sunday, but lunches are expected to be available at a later date Friday through Sunday.