If you’re craving Mediterranean food with an authentic, home-cooked flavor, Santa Lucia Restaurante in Fargo is a must-try. Opened in 1991 by Archie Simeonidis and his children, the restaurant originated in Thompson, Manitoba, Canada, where Archie’s family introduced the first location in 1974. Archie’s daughter Maria, along with her husband Geoff, joined the family business with Archie, and the three now operate Fargo’s flagship Greek and Italian hot-spot. Maria Wilson spoke with Shop.Dine.Live about growing up in the restaurant industry, her dreams for the future, and what she likes to cook at home.

SDL: What sets you apart from other Italian or Greek restaurants in the area?

MW: It really is the life experience in the restaurant biz. I was cooking, serving and managing at the very young age of 14. Being born first-generation (Canadian) to immigrant parents, I had to be involved in all operations of daily living and business. Because of this experience I have had and still have, is what sets us apart. Plus the opportunity to work alongside many great people, love my restaurant fam!

SDL: What is your unique role in the company?

MW: My role in the company is hands on day-to-day operations such as creating new recipes, new menu items, features, deciding on wines and pairings, working alongside my employees fine tuning training the “Maria Way,” also back-of-house and if I still have time, my favorite thing to do is stroll the dining room and talk with our guests.

SDL: What do you want the community to know about you?

MW: Just that I’m here, I’m human, and that I still believe in the great American dream! I want every person reading this know that everything is possible in this world, but only through dedication, commitment, and hard, very hard work.

SDL: What is your favorite meal to cook at home?
MW: My favorite meal to cook at home is a juicy grilled ribeye with creamy scalloped potatoes, corn on the cob, fire roasted asparagus and Greek Salad.

SDL: What are your dreams for the future?

MW: My dream for the near future is to open a new concept restaurant where you come in, sit down and let us feed you. This concept would ensure the ultimate dining experience with no menu. I love to spoil guests and to wow them – it would be fun and exclusive!

Wilson adds that the business recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, and the family-owned and operated dining chain doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. Fans of the eatery have been singing its praises for a decade, as all of the Santa Lucia locations have received the Consumer Choice Award and Best Pizza Award ten years in a row – quite an impressive feat.

Santa Lucia is located at 1109 38th Street South and is open seven days a week. Tuesday evenings feature the “Date Night” special – order two entrees and you’ll receive a free bottle of wine. From great pizza to fried calamari, gyro sandwiches to cannolis, every day is a great day to visit Santa Lucia. Find out more and get special coupons by visiting www.santaluciainc.com.

“Good better best, we never let it rest… until the good becomes the better and the better becomes the best!”

By Rachelle Gordon