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‘The Sicilian’ opens – a slice of ‘Little Italy’ in Belize, despite controversy

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Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2022. 8:48 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: In January, we reported that the Belize City Council at its monthly meeting had approved, upon the motion of a councilor, plans for a businessman to open an Italian restaurant at the former Pier One Bar inside BTL Park along the Newtown Barracks.

The site has long been a source of some controversy because of clashes between adult and family-friendly atmospheres which led to at least one killing and complaints from neighbourhood residents. The current Council had made plans to establish it as a hub for students, but it remained a hot ticket.

In fact, last weekend there were reports that the new restaurant, known as ‘The Sicilian,’ was open past its scheduled closing time and there was much ruckus.

On Monday, the owner invited the press to dine and question him about his plans and endeavours.

Daniel Hilton explained that Belize is less “bound by red tape and restrictions” than his native Columbia, Missouri, and he was drawn to the location and the surrounding park, enticed as much by the breezes off the sea as anything else.

As he put it, “I came to the park every day, not knowing what to do, and then I see [this] and I said, ‘That’s it! This is it!’”

Which is not to say he didn’t see any red tape – there were six to nine months of back and forth to Belmopan and to City Hall to secure various licenses and permissions, all in the middle of a pandemic – but he never let go of his dream, and today he is dreaming even bigger.

He acknowledges that he is going for a ‘family-friendly’ vibe while still catering to adult patrons looking for a hangout spot, especially to drink alcohol.

And while he acknowledged that he was “misinformed” about how long he has under his license to remain open, he pledges to follow the rules and points to the lack of rowdy behaviour as proof that his restaurant will set the standard.

And while the title, to some, may invoke the Mob which was established on the Italian island of Sicily, Hilton assures that he only thought it up on the spot when he was informed at the Companies Registry that ‘Little Italy,’ his chosen original name, was already taken by a business. Even so, the restaurant will specialize in Italian cuisine, not to mention seafood and some Belizean dishes.

The man tasked with bringing that all together is executive chef Floyd Reneau, who proudly boasts that all of his ingredients are made personally and from local ingredients. He calls on 35 years of experience around the world to create a menu unlike any other in Belize as well as taking a chance to give back by training younger chefs in Belize to recreate recipes good enough to be eaten and enjoyed anywhere in the world – and in Belize, if Hilton’s dream of making the restaurant a chain comes true.

Opening hours are from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to midnight daily.

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