The name, Eleven Front, is also the address of a new bar and grill opened by newly minted Trentonians Karolyn and Vince Ippolito, who moved from Pennington to live above their business.
And although Eleven Front is both a bar and a restaurant, it is also a factory for the Ippolito’s unique pasta sauce that is currently sold only at Pennington Quality Market.
Karenzo’s sauce comes frozen and vacuum-packed in bags. You can cook it in the bag along with the noodles, making cooking and cleanup simpler. The sauce itself is based on a recipe that Sicilian native Vincent said has been in the family for 100 years.
“I spent six months watching my mother make it just to figure out how to write down the recipe,” he said.
The Ippolitos didn’t set out to start a restaurant. The sauce was just a side business for Vincent, an IBM IT expert and Karolyn, a lawyer. Both had long dreamed of starting a restaurant, but thought it was a long-distant proposition until last year when they began looking for a place to make Karenzo’s Sauce.
They started in Pennington, where they lived, but found that few places were willing to rent out to a manufacturing business, even one that had long-term plans of starting a restaurant.
“It was not a welcoming real estate environment,” Ippolito said.
Then they visited Trenton, and found a whole different attitude.
“I had never been to Trenton before in my life,” Vincent said. “They were so welcoming.”
They soon found the three-story building at 11 West Front Street, formerly the site of Utopia Bistro, would be perfect for their needs. They set out merely to rent it, but decided to buy it outright and live there as well.
After some renovation, the restaurant hosted several holiday parties for local offices, and was part of the Patriots Week pub crawl just after Christmas. They opened for business Jan. 5, with councilwomen Maggie Caldwell-Wilson and Phyllis Holly-Ward on hand to cut the ribbon.
The restaurant is a small family business. Karolyn cooks, Vincent tends bar, and their daughter Angelica and her boyfriend Ryan West wait tables.
Eleven Front is located at 11 West Front Street and is open for lunch Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner Tuesday-Saturday from 4:30 to 10 p.m.