Fazzini’s looking to serve up Italian favorites

Fazzini’s looking to serve up Italian favorites

Eric and Bethany Marsland, owners of Champ’s Diner on Front Street, plan to launch Fazzini’s, a new restaurant serving Italian favorites, in the former Brick House space on Diamond Hill Road this spring. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)
Champ’s Diner owners will launch new venture in former Brick House space

WOONSOCKET – Eric and Bethany Marsland have a long history in the restaurant business. The husband-and-wife team who currently operate Champ’s Diner on Front Street have owned several establishments within and outside the city. But the couple says they have one more venture in them before they retire and plan to take their culinary offerings up a level with Fazzini’s, a new Italian restaurant slated to open on Diamond Hill Road this spring.

Fazzini’s, located in the former Brick House building, will offer fine Italian dining at affordable prices, according to the couple. The dining room menu will feature Italian classics including steak, pasta and seafood, while a pub menu will feature more casual fare and a banquet room will seat 125 guests. According to Eric, emphasis will be on quality customer service and food as the couple strives to deliver a Federal Hill-level experience without the need to leave the Blackstone Valley.

“You don’t have to travel 25 miles anymore. You’ll be able to get it right here in the heart of the city,” he said.

According to Bethany, the restaurant will be an opportunity for her husband to showcase his culinary skills. A Cumberland native, Eric studied culinary arts at Davies Career and Technical High School and Rhode Island School of Design before getting a job at Bethany’s, the former Woonsocket restaurant owned by his future wife. Prior to that, he received his culinary training in the kitchen, where both his nana and his father were known to whip up Italian-American favorites. The name comes from his grandmother, Margaret Fazzini, whose polenta recipe in particular made an impression on her young grandson.

“‘If you can’t love it, you can’t make it,’” he recalled her instructions.

While Champ’s has received a warm welcome since the Marslands reopened it in 2015 – quickly reestablishing the former Park Square dining car as a staple of the city’s breakfast scene – Bethany said her husband is ready to do more than just scramble eggs. The Front Street diner will continue to operate under its regular hours while the couple turns their attention to the dinner crowd at the new place.

In addition to dinner, Fazzini’s will open early on Sunday afternoons for family style chicken and a prix fixe menu of Sunday specials including roast beef, pork and lamb. Eric also plans to bring along his selection of creative cakes and desserts, a Champ’s mainstay that will transition easily into the pages of a fine dining menu.

“We’re gonna knock people’s socks off,” he said.

The Marslands said they hope to have the new place up and running by March 1. In the meantime, it’s business as usual at Champ’s, where customers come for the breakfast favorites and regulars are greeted by name.

“We’re blessed. We’re truly blessed, and we appreciate all of that,” said Eric.