Continuing its meteoric rise in the Middle East, the well-known, Houston-based Italian restaurant announced its first signed agreement in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with the Hospitality & Catering Company. The location is due to open in the urban metropolis by the end of this year.

“Riyadh is about to have a taste of something it’s never experienced before. We’re not just offering original Italian recipes; we’re offering a unique dining experience in an unrivaled interior highlighting our open kitchen, where our guests can see the quality and care we incorporate with every dish we prepare,” says founder and CEO, Chef Anthony Russo. “There is an unmistakable demand here for the kind of family-friendly and refined dining that only Russo’s can offer. We will be the first to give Riyadh carefully crafted New York–style pizza and handmade pastas, soups, salads, and sandwiches, in a cozy yet luxurious setting.”

To kick off their historic first opening in Saudi Arabia, the location will feature a warm, friendly environment with trendy and modern design elements Chef Anthony has cultivated in his locations worldwide. Additionally, this will be the first Middle East location to offer the Giant 28-inch XL Pizza and Giant Slices.

“Chef Anthony has customized the menu to adapt to the local trade area by creating recipes using local fresh ingredients and spices. His authentic Italian cuisine and hand-crafted New York–style pizzas will delight Russo’s newest guests in Riyadh, along with our locally sourced, farm fresh produce and meats,” says international franchise development manager Suzanne Boyadjian. “Chef Anthony’s focus is on his authentic Italian recipes that he has painstakingly perfected to adapt to the region, featuring fresh, local seafood, Halal meats, risotto and saffron, truffle mushroom soup, eggplant pizza, gnocchi pasta, and Mediterranean-influenced dips and spreads. Our great food coupled with Chef Anthony’s custom-designed interior and the seasoned management team of our franchise partner is sure to culminate in exceptional guest service and great success at Riyadh’s first Russo’s franchised location.”

Menu innovation is at the heart of the Russo’s Restaurants brands, blending generations of the Russo’s family Italian recipes. Through Chef Anthony’s handpicked ingredients and a commitment to research and development, the brands have continued to stay ahead of culinary trends. A prime example is the development of a full line of gluten-free pizzas and pastas, a sincere response to the request for great-tasting, gluten-free menu selections from health-conscious families and thousands living with celiac disease worldwide.

Riyadh marks the next step in Russo’s bold initiative to open 28 locations across the Middle East. The family-focused original Italian concept has established an ever-growing presence in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with locations open in Al Wahda Mall and Dalma Mall in Abu Dhabi; Jumeirah Centre in Dubai; and Sahara Centre in Sharjah. This summer, the Russo’s brand will open new franchised locations in Dubai and expand further across the region.

Russo’s Restaurants offers a rare franchise opportunity for entrepreneurs interested in proven brands that are entirely chef created, chef inspired, and chef driven. Russo’s New York Pizzeria is the only authentic New York–style pizzeria as a franchise concept. “We have a bold plan in place for the next three years. Russo’s is on course to add 30 restaurants, more than doubling our number of domestic and international locations,” says Jim Carr, director of franchise development for Russo’s Restaurants. “The Middle East is just the beginning. We are hosting initial talks with developers throughout Europe, Canada, Mexico and the Far East, and our domestic expansion continues to flourish.”

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