Italian restaurant to open in Surrey Center

Michael Schepis, who owns The Pizza Joint, is teaming up with a friend to open a new Italian eatery at Surrey Center.

The owner of The Pizza Joint and his longtime friend are opening a new Italian restaurant in Surrey Center.

Oliviana’s Bar Italiano & Pizzeria will open at the end of September in the former site of Polka Dot Pig Gastropub at 399 Highland Ave., co-owner Michael Schepis said.

Schepis is the owner of The Pizza Joint in downtown Augusta, Evans and Aiken. His business partner, Alain De Bernardi, is the owner of Curli LLC, which sells dog leashes and harnesses on Monte Sano Avenue.

“I wanted to offer a more diverse menu centered around Italian and Mediterranean-style food,” Schepis said. “There are great restaurants in this area. We feel that we’d like to join them in creating another restaurant with a great atmosphere.”

De Bernardi said an Ital­ian restaurant would “enhance the overall scheme of Surrey Center,” which he said has a European feel.

The owners are completing renovations and will hire roughly 35 employees.

Oliviana’s will have seating for 125 people, in addition to outdoor patio and sidewalk seating. It will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and possibly brunch on Sundays. The bar will stay open late Thurs­day through Saturday.

The restaurant will serve northern Italian and Mediter­ranean dishes.

Schepis said the restaurant will offer an “eclectic vibe with world music” and will be a social gathering spot for drinking and friends.

“We’re trying to bring a piece of Europe here,” De Bernardi said. “They should feel a little like they’re going on vacation.”

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