Looking back on his childhood and his Italian roots, some of Andrew Venezie's favorite memories revolved around family dinners his grandmother made; he assisted her and crimped the edges of ravioli or rolled gnocchi. It is part of what inspired him to take over ownership of Ilario’s Italian Cuisine and Catering in January 2022 when the former owner, Stephen Swindell, sold it.

He also spent a considerable amount of time working in the service industry bussing to bartending during high school, learning the skills of the trade, which lent themselves to the transition of ownership.

When Swindell opened the restaurant in 2011, it just sold pizza, Venezie said. It swiftly turned into a sit-down restaurant with a full Italian menu and has largely remained the same since Venezie took over.

“Most of the menu, I'd say anywhere from 90-95%, is still the same. I didn't want to change too much because the reputation within Kyle and the surrounding areas was already good,” Venezie said.

Over the years, Ilario's has made a name for itself as an independent, locally owned restaurant among a sea of corporations.

“We stand out because a lot of the places around here are chains, nothing against it,” Venezie said. “Our is an independent restaurant; we don't have a corporate office. ... Whatever our vision is and wherever we're going, we can make that decision for the community and for ourselves.”

Venezie hopes to eventually expand Ilario's with more locations in either direction of I-35 into Austin and San Antonio.

It remains unclear when that may happen; for now, Venezie and his staff have their community in Kyle.

“We have some fantastic people here, the regulars that come in all the time, and I get to meet them. It's wonderful being able to get to know their story as well,” Venezie said.


Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily