When Solevo Kitchen + Social opened its doors in September 2018, the restaurant faced an uphill battle—at least, on paper. That’s because of the obvious: Saratoga Springs is one bowl shy of becoming a Pastafarian shrine on any given night, with Italian restaurants of all stripes, types and price ranges dotting the city. So, Connecticut-born brother-and-sister team Ronald and Giovannina Solevo—Ronnie and Gigi to friends—had just a single goal in their first year in business, “We wanted to be accepted into the [Saratoga] scene,” says Ronnie. The Spa City had been their family’s perennial summer vacation spot, and they just wanted to do right by the place they loved.
Fairytales do, in fact, come true. Everything seemingly fell into place for the Solevos, and these days, Solevo Kitchen + Social has become one of the city’s most-talked-about restaurants and the spot where high-profile clientele—the true power players of Saratoga—congregate. Ronnie, who serves as executive chef, and Gigi, Solevo’s front-of-house/business whiz, cut their teeth in the family restaurant business back in Connecticut and during stints in New York City. Things got real in 2013, when the siblings purchased their parents’ Italian restaurant and ran it together for four years. Then they sold it and moved to Saratoga, where their parents had retired—literally, across the street from where Solevo Kitchen + Social would end up opening. Gigi was actually the first to arrive here, and she remembers begging her brother to follow suit: “We’re not getting any younger—let’s do this now,” she told him. “We’re young, we’re energetic, we have what it takes…let’s go.” Thankfully, he agreed.
Now, about those power players. It’s not just local execs who frequent the Solevos’ restaurant; it’s straight-up celebrities, who flock there because of its “see and be seen” atmosphere. The restaurant’s lined with windows that passersby can peer into, and it has the feel of a Downtown New York City haunt. (“People crave that vibe,” says Ronnie. “You can’t get that everywhere.”) During the all-day-all-night party that is the Saratoga track season, the Solevos have managed to rein in a litany of high-profile horsemen, including jockeys such as the Ortiz brothers and John Velazquez, who chose Solevo as the site of his victory meal following his Travers Stakes win last year; and trainers Claude “Shug” McGaughey, Todd Pletcher, Bill Mott and Chad Brown. The list goes on and on. Bobby Flay’s been in for a drink. Ronnie and Gigi were even called up to cater for pop band Train, when the band rocked Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) last summer.
With all of this momentum, the Solevos say they’re thinking about expanding. (Though Ronnie is quick to note that the COVID-19 outbreak and uncertainty of the economy could put these plans on hold.) In fact, they let us in on a little secret: “We’ve got some other things in the works,” says Ronnie. (When pressed on the subject, they wouldn’t go any further.) “I think one of the goals when Ronnie and I came up here wasn’t just to have one successful restaurant,” says Gigi. “It was to hopefully form our own version of a hospitality group.” Ronnie concurs. “I’m a dreamer, and she’s a businessperson,” he says. “I’d rather write a journal of restaurant concepts that I know would work in Saratoga and that I think Saratoga needs, and hand it to her and [have her say], ‘Let’s make this happen.’ And we’re trying to do that right now,” says Ronnie. We can’t wait.
(At press time, Solevo Kitchen + Social was temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 crisis.)