John Minasian opened Buono Bistro three weeks ago at 220 Sutton St. because he "wanted a high end restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere at a price people can afford."
Minasian co-owns the restaurant with Chef Faisal Bazarto. Bazarto also owns the Buona Panini Bistro in Salem, N.H.
"We have three chefs," Minasian explained. Besides Bazarto, there is Eddie Damelio, whose family used to own Five North Square in the North End, and Jamie who brings European and New Orleans flare to the menu. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.
The menu, he said, was created to "combine classic comfort with a gourmet twist," and so far the top-selling entrees have been Fruitee di Mare, Saltimbocca ala Romano Francese, Buono Land and Sea (Sauteed Medalians with shrimp and lobster meat), Grilled Rib Eye Steak and Lamb Osso Bucco (braised lamb shank).
Minasian said they use 100 percent black angus beef without fillers. All the meals are prepared from scratch. "The flavor is just fabulous," he said.
An impressive and extensive wine wall with capacity for 536 wines greets patrons as they walk in. He said he has wines at low medium and high end, but prices the high end wines lower than most restaurants.
Every Thursday, Friday and Saturdays, customers can enjoy music by local entertainers. Reservations are highly recommended especially for Fridays and Saturdays, he said.
"We also provide catering and have already catered local businesses including Converse," he said.
A 1983 graduate of North Andover High School , Minasian said he loves the area and enjoys the people in the community. He has worked in the restaurant business since graduating and had spent the last seven years at Panera Bread.
Marjorie Signorelli, a retired teacher from Lawrence, who said she did her student teaching in North Andover, ate lunch there on Monday. She told the Patch that she eats out everyday and is in charge of scouting out restaurants for 52 retired Lawrence teachers who meet on a monthly basis.
After finishing her lunch, she gave the restaurant high marks. "It is close to the highway, has ample parking, the decor is lovely, and the food is excellent" she explained.
Another customer as they were leaving told Minasian, "Everything was wonderful. We'll be back."
Although Minasian advertises in the Eagle Tribune and Spectrum, he said that word of mouth is best. "It can't get much better when I see customers come in with other people.
Minasian told the Patch that Pat Whitley and his wife enjoyed their dinner so much on Friday night that he was invited to be on Whitley's restaurant radio show this past Sunday.
"I just want people to come in and enjoy the fabulous food," he said.
Buono Bistro does not currently have a website but is on Facebook and Twitter. The restaurant hours are Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. (Dinner only). The phone number is 978-258-0058.