By LANCE ARMSTRONG, Valley Community Newspapers writer
Sixty-six years ago, the building became home to the Rosemount Grill, which was once one of the city’s most popular restaurants.
But the story actually does not begin there, as this East Sacramento landmark was not Rosemount Grill’s first location.
Prior to its relocation to East Sacramento, Rosemount Grill had already acquired much local recognition during its longtime operation at 1011 9th St., near the historic city plaza – now Cesar Chavez Plaza.
When the Rosemount Grill finally closed its doors for the last time at 10 p.m. on January 31, 1989, the community was left with a void, as it had lost one of its oldest and most cherished eateries.
On the front cover of a Rosemount Grill menu, dated Friday, March 6, 1987, are the words: “Serving fine food to fine people for over 65 years.”
With a search into old city directories, Peter “Pete” Valerio and George Lucich appear as the earliest proprietors of the restaurant.
Although 1914 has often been repeated in local newspaper articles as the initial year of the Rosemount Grill, Pete Valerio is not listed in a city directory until 1917, when he resided at 810 P Street. And the same directory refers to him as co-owner of the Rosemount Grill with George Lucich.
The 1914 directory does list a restaurant being under the proprietorship of Lucich and Valerio, but this restaurant was located in a separate location and was owned by Marco Lucich and Jerry Valerio.
The city directory of 1916 notes that George Lucich was joined with Jerry Valerio in the ownership of a restaurant at the initial site of the Rosemount Grill. However, no reference to the name Rosemount Grill was mentioned.
The earliest reference to the name Rosemount Grill that was discovered during research for this article appears in the Sept. 25, 1916 edition of The Sacramento Bee, which reported about the restaurant’s application for a Class A liquor license.
Barbara (Cordano) Mikacich, who co-owns the old Rosemount Grill building and its property with her husband, Pete Mikacich, and the Sacramento-based, commercial real estate business, Cordano Company, said that the notion that the Rosemount Grill opened in 1916 “seems about right.”
“To me, 1914 seems a bit too early,” said Barbara Mikacich, who graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School in 1951.
If pinpointing an exact year as to when the Rosemount Grill was established was not complicated enough, a 1961 advertisement for the restaurant boasts that the business had been “Serving Sacramento since 1915.”
But whatever the precise year may be for the founding of the Rosemount Grill, one thing is for certain: Pete Valerio was in many ways synonymous with this restaurant.
Prior to moving to Sacramento, Pete Valerio, who emigrated from Croatia at the age of 10 in 1898, was a resident of Leadville, Colo.
According to a Dec. 25, 1987 article in The Bee, it was Leadville’s Rosemount Grill restaurant that inspired Pete Valerio to give his Sacramento restaurant the same name.
In a similar manner to which he became a dedicated member of civic groups such as Elks Lodge No. 6, the Knights of Columbus, the Eagles, Optimists, Footprinters and the California Restaurant Association, Pete Valerio was dedicated to maintaining the success of the Rosemount Grill.
Pete Valerio, who had a wife named Dorothy and four daughters, continued to co-own the Rosemount Grill throughout his life and he worked a daily shift at the restaurant, working in the kitchen cutting meats and performing other food preparations, until he was 95.
The restaurant’s original ownership never changed at the first location, except for the addition of Joseph Ostoja from 1921 to 1925. And at the East Sacramento site, Pete Valerio owned the restaurant with several different partners at different times.
Pete Mikacich, who graduated from Christian Brothers High School in 1952, said that he remembers hearing Pete Valerio speak about the relocation of the Rosemount Grill to 3145 Folsom Blvd.
“People told (Pete Valerio) that he was nuts to move out there, because that was pretty much vacant territory out there, it was too far out there, there was no people out there, blah, blah, blah,” Pete Mikacich said. “He said, ‘Well, when I build it, I’m going to put big doors in the back, so in case I don’t make it, I can turn it into an automotive repair shop.’ I remember him telling people that. But anyway, he went out there and he was quite successful. It was ‘the spot.’ Everybody went there, it was packed and it had very good food.”
In observing the aforementioned 1987 Rosemount Grill menu, one can find that the restaurant presented plenty of edible options.
Included on the menu were the following items: Grilled Pacific red snapper with lemon butter sauce, steamed clams or mussels with bordelaise sauce, boiled beef tongue with fresh spinach, beef pot roast with rigatoni, a half portion of slipper lobster and breaded veal cutlets with cream sauce.
Pete Mikacich, who co-owns The Limelight bar, café and card room at 1014 Alhambra Blvd. with Barbara, said that he worked with Pete Valerio’s son-in-law Ralph Ryan, a longtime partner in the Rosemount Grill, to fill the void created by the loss of the historic eatery, which was the city’s longest operating, single-family-owned restaurant.
As a result, Andiamo! restaurant opened in the Rosemount Grill’s former East Sacramento location.
Barbara, who named the restaurant after the Italian command for “Let’s Go!,” which her father often said to hurry along his family members, said that it was important for her to both create a new restaurant and continue various Rosemount Grill traditions.
Adiamo! retained the old booths, the half-circle bar and perhaps most importantly, some of the original Rosemount Grill food offerings.
Like its predecessor, Andiamo!, which was mainly Barbara’s project, built a strong reputation for its quality food and service, as it successfully operated at the former, East Sacramento Rosemount Grill site for two decades.
Barbara, who said that The Limelight later acquired former Andiamo! cooks and continues to offer some menu items from the Rosemount Grill, mentioned that many people still speak to her about the Rosemount Grill, as well as Andiamo!
“There’s hardly a day that goes by that somebody doesn’t tell me that they miss either Andiamo! or the Rosemount,” Barbara said.
Roy Glidewell, 67, said that he fondly remembers dining at the Rosemount Grill, as well as at Andiamo!, where he worked as a catering delivery driver and a landscaper.
“(The Rosemount Grill) was definitely a good place to go to back at that time,” said Glidewell, a June 1962 graduate of McClatchy High. “I liked going to the Rosemount and when it was Andiamo!, too. (The Rosemount Grill) made a hot turkey sandwich that I really enjoyed. I like older things and that’s why I liked going over there (to the Rosemount Grill). I wish (the Rosemount Grill) was back. There are a lot of things that I wish were back, but that’s definitely one of them.”