A new restaurant with an Italian kick has opened in Aiken.

Mario's Italian Kitchen opened its doors on Tuesday and is serving a variety of dishes inspired from Northern and Southern Italy. Franco Petroccitto, owner and chef, has been in the restaurant business for more than 40 years in the northern portion of the U.S. and is excited to bring his talent to South Carolina.

“It's the best kept secret in Aiken,” Petroccitto said.

Petroccitto moved to Aiken in July. He hosted a small meet and greet barbecue in Gem Lakes, and his neighbors started asking when he was going to open up a restaurant. So, Petroccitto stepped out of retirement and got back to work.

The menu includes salads, pasta, chicken, veal, steaks and seafood dishes. Appetizers, like fried calamari and caprese, and desserts are also available. Jane Titzell, the restaurant's hostess, said she's tried almost every dish.

“The food is all good,” Titzell said.

Petroccitto added that he continues to follow his mantra of operating a family-friendly business. He said children under the age of 6 eat free at “Uncle Mario's.”

The restaurant currently serves dinner, but will try offering lunch in the coming weeks, Petroccitto said.

Mario's also offers catering. Petroccitto said they can make an order for two people or 400 guests for a big event.

“We'll do the cooking so you can take the night off,” Petroccitto said.

Petroccitto suggested anyone wanting to make Christmas meal reservations should do so now.

Mario's Italian Kitchen is located on 1142 York St. N.E. in Aiken and shares a parking lot with Domino's.

To make reservations or call in an order, call 803-226-0190.

They are open for lunch and dinner.

Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010. She is a native of Rustburg, Va. and a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman's College.