Restaurant Impossible Follow-Up | Aponte’s Pizzeria (Mason, OH)

Benner Street Robert is returning to the Cincinnati area for the 2 time, this time to tackle a pizzeria that is struggling. The owner Tony has been doing things the same way for over 2 decades, it’s what he knows. Robert is going to teach him what he knows and hopefully that will help this restaurant bounce back.

Problems Robert Had to Address
1. Bland tasting tomato sauce leading to bland tasting food
2. The owner's stubbornness to change
3. Dirty carpet and ugly wall colors
4. Difficult finding what door you enter to get in the restaurant

The Tomato Sauce Problem
Tony’s sauce was bland, making all his food bland. If you can make a good tomato sauce then you can make plenty of flavorful dishes. In this country many people just buy tomato sauce in a can or pay extreme prices for a jar of some sauce with some famous chef or place on it. Mastering a tomato sauce in your own kitchen is a key skill to possess. In the summer time I like to make as much sauce as I can either on the stove top or in the slow cooker. That way I am using the best tasting tomatoes possible and then freezing the sauce to last through the winter months – so I don’t have to use store bought tomatoes in the winter that taste like nothing. When tomatoes are in season is when I have tons of fresh herbs in the garden. It’s a lot of work to do in August and September but it’s worth the effort to have my homemade sauce on hand whenever I need it.

The Recipes
Pizza Pockets/Purse | Print the recipe
I like his idea of using egg roll wrappers to make a pizza pocket. I have made a similar thing but in a small package using wonton wrappers to makeDeep Fried Pizza Wontons.

Restaurant Impossible Still Open
According to the Mason Buzz, business was booming out of the gate, but slowed down in the month of July. Tony is hoping things pick up when the episode aired. Why might the slow down be? The reviews online since the makeover have been rather negative. Here are some examples from Yelp:

“As a born n raised Yankee I have loved Apontes. But since Restaurant Impossible has been their they have raised their prices. Two pizzas came to $50!!”

Prices always seem to go up after Robert’s visit. I think he encourages it, trying to help them make more money. Althought it can backfired like he did with this customer.

“This place is a freaking joke now…. Went in on a Friday night and was handed a piece of paper menu which had about 9 items on it, followed up by the waitress telling us the only thing they have for the night is 18 inch pizza they are out of everything else… This use to be a place with great food now it looks like a cheap ikea remodel with a terrible menu not a restaurant impossible remodel… I’ve been a long time customer but not any more you’ve lost my business Tony”

Another customer promises to never return. I although I did not see a problem with the remodel. I like IKEA!

“Always enjoyed Apontes. Upon finding out Restaurant Impossible did a show from there-they changed their good way of doing business. Website says order online and delivery but when you try to order online you can’t. So i call and they don’t deliver and don’t have an item they show on their online menu. Always supported Tony but won’t ever again. Really sad!”

So for some reason they don’t delivery? They never brought it up during the episode. So don’t know on that one.

Closing Thoughts
As I keep reading the reviews on Yelp, they seem to have received way more good reviews than bad. It seems people did like their food, either that or the standard for pizza is so low (if you are a regular Domino’s or frozen pizza eater) that even ok is seen as great. This leaves me to wonder if it was really the food that was hurting this business. They didn’t seem to address anything but food and decor. Are there business things that Tony is doing wrong that is costing them money. Robert seem to be just blaming it all on Tony and his food. Robert has gotten away from the list he use to make at the start of the show. In this episode I have my doubts he really got to the problem. The future will tell whether Aponte’s is better off.

Have you been to this restaurant, what did you think?

If you want more Robert Irvine recipes, here are some of his available cookbooks:

This cookbook contains 111 recipes many with complete timelimes and several that are gluten free. An example of the kind of recipes you will find are Lime-Cured Shrimp and Roasted Corn Chowder, Porcini-Dusted Pork Chops with Cremini Mushrooms and Golden Raisins over Horseradish-Scented Potatoes.

In this book Robert shares his personal stories (including cooking for First Lady Laura Bush) and cooking philosophy. There are also recipes to be had like Black Angus Beef Tartare with Toasted Brioche and Fried Quail Egg, Roasted Duck with White Bean Ragout.

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