Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 12 : Spring 2012 - Page 64

Gram Ruso’s Italian Restaurant Kevin B. Simmons began negotiations for the purchase of the Presque Isle Inn & Convention Center, formerly know as Keddy’s Motor Inn, in the early part of 1999. After finalizing the purchase in July 2000, Simmons’s first project was the renovation of the main dining room. Simmons knew that he wanted something previously unavailable in Aroostook County, a truly authentic Italian restaurant. He wanted a look of the true Italy with ornate wall coverings, decorations, and a real Italian water fountain straight from Italy. Marjorie Russo, Kevin’s late grandmother who past away at the age of 87 in 1999, was the inspiration for Gram Russo’s Italian Restaurant. 64 SPRING 2012 Though Marjorie Russo was not of Italian descent, she adopted the culture and cuisine of her loving husband Benjamin Carmen Russo, making it distinctly her own. Gram Russo’s features authentic Italian dishes based on those made by Marjorie, that Kevin grew to love as a child. Those menu items include recipes for marinara sauce and meatballs, lasagna and many other popular Italian dishes. Today, the culinary department is under the direction of Joanna Dumond. Joanna has been employed at Gram Russo’s since 2009 and has truly created a new culinary flare in The County; she is a Van Buren native. Growing up in the St. John Valley where the Acadian culture and food, as well as the