New restaurant coming to town


A veteran Italian chef wants to bring a slice of the Mediterranean to the South Pier District.

Lino Autiero, who has worked and managed restaurants in hotels and on cruise ships over the past 40 years, plans to open Lino Ristorante Italiano next spring on South Pier Drive, across from the Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center. The family-oriented restaurant would have a focus on seafood dishes.

"I'm extremely excited," said Autiero, 56, who also has worked with area chef Stefano Viglietti, who operates Trattoria Stefano and Il Ritrovo in downtown Sheboygan. "We love the location, and we're trying to do a beautiful Italian restaurant."

The restaurant, which was approved earlier this week by the Sheboygan Plan Commission, would be a 3,350-square-foot single-story "shanty" building along the promenade walk. The restaurant will seat about 75 people and also have outdoor tables.

Construction of the $500,000 project is expected to begin next month, with a planned grand opening in mid-April. The building will be constructed on the same spot where an elevator shaft stood for several years, marking a building that never was completed. The developers of Lino Ristorante Italiano finished demolishing the elevator shaft earlier this week.

The city's Redevelopment Authority took back the property from developer John Schwarz in June 2008, and city officials are happy something new will finally be built there.

"It's nice to see some development to take place on the South Pier, to have a restaurant really fits in with the types of entertainment facilities we're looking to see locate down there," said Steve Sokolowski, manager of planning and zoning.

There are a handful of restaurants in the district; Weissgerber's Seabird, Blue Point Wine & Tapas Bar, and Pier 57, along with the Rusty Anchor Buffet and On the Rocks Bar & Grille, located inside Blue Harbor. Another South Pier restaurant, Islander Cafe, recently closed, but will reopen under a different name, Sugarfoot, on Michigan Avenue in October.

Erik Jensen of LJM Architects, the architect of the project, said he hopes the restaurant will revive development in the South Pier, which has slowed dramatically because of the sour economy.

"We are all confident that this is going to be a second wave of jump-start (development) for the area," Jensen said.

Autiero said he splits time between Sheboygan and his native Italy, where he has worked at and managed restaurants at resorts on the Amalfi Coast and Capri Island, off the Italian coast near Naples. He has also worked in Los Angeles.

"It's not new in my life, but it's new to Sheboygan," Autiero said. "We're going to bring like an image from Mediterranean cooking, great fish, great pasta, great appetizers, awesome desserts."

Petrie, Bob. “New restaurant coming to town.” The Sheboygan Press. September 18, 2009, page A1.