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Sasa Italian Gourmet Opens in Downtown Hollywood on Harrison Street

May 30, 2024

He's lived in three countries and many cities. He's had multiple businesses, ranging from fashion boutiques to furniture manufacturers to restaurants, in even more cities. He's a businessman, an artist, and a risktaker, but Hollywood is the only place to which he has ever come back to reinvent a business and make it even better.

He's Salvatore Savarese, better known as Sasa, the owner of the former eponymous restaurant located in a little house on South 20th Avenue at Van Buren Street. Now he's back with a newer, better version of the restaurant, Sasa Italian Gourmet, at 2000 Harrison Street #2 in Downtown Hollywood.

Never one to repeat himself, though, Sasa (the man) has created the new Sasa (the shop), to be even more than its predecessor, with an Italian market in the front, and a bright, art-filled cafe in the back. There, he and his wife, Loiris Lakatos, sell the paninis, salads and Italian desserts for which the original restaurant is known, while in the market, they offer a unique variety of wines, cheeses, handmade pastas and flatbreads, and other items that cannot be found anywhere else nearby.

"We started with a boutique on Hollywood Boulevard," recalled Sasa, who has been in the US for over 20 years. "Then we began looking for our next adventure, and my wife said 'Why don't we make a place for coffee and breakfast?' And then we found the charming little house where we began with coffee, then expanded with food. We were there for seven years but left when the house was sold. It took two years to find a new place."

He continued, "I like a place with music. And, of course, if you are in Italy and you find a romantic restaurant, it's not only the food; it's the music, the atmosphere that makes you stay. It's beautiful this place where you spend one or two hours and relax; it's like being on vacation. I love this! This is my conception of a restaurant."

That concept is evident at Sasa Italian Gourmet. In the cafe, Sasa serves a simple fare of paninis, salads, flatbreads, and Italian desserts. Favorites from the original location have returned, including the Sasa Appetizer ($21 per person, minimum 2 people). And for dessert, the Sasa Cake, the couple's unique creation of chocolate cake with classic Italian custard crema, orange, and Amaretto liquor ($8.50).

"A lot of Amaretto," Lakatos added. "This one is not for kids."

"And there is music," confirmed her husband. "No TV."

The new part of the business, the market, sells a host of mostly Italian specialty products.

"We have Italian mineral waters, and we chose the best wines from all over Europe and South America," Savarese explained. "They're not too expensive and not too cheap — we start at $20 and go up to $45 or $50 a bottle.

"The food though, it's all Italian. 99.99% Italian. We have fresh mozzarella, ricotta, caciocavallo, pecorino Romano, we have parmesan. I buy all these fresh.

"We have wine, we have cheese, and we have pasta, pasta, pasta. We have a dry pasta and fresh-made pasta. We have two types of flatbread. It's crispy, it's beautiful because it's not like normal flatbread — it's different and is a specialty from Roma."

At the restaurant, as a painter, as a designer, Savarese puts all of himself into his work, and it's easy to see when you visit Sasa Italian Gourmet.

"In any work in my life, my hand is my soul," he asserted. "At Sasa Italian Gourmet, my concept is Soul Amore. My concept is me giving you something special because it is something that I would make for myself."

Sasa Italian Gourmet is open from 10 am to 6 pm, Monday to Thursday, 10 am to 8 pm on Friday and Saturday, and is closed on Sundays. For more information, call 754-800-5959 or email You can also follow them on Facebook or Instagram @sasaitaliangourmet.

Downtown Hollywood offers on-street metered parking for $1.50 per hour, as well as municipal garage parking for $1 per hour at 251 S. 20th Avenue (between Harrison Street and Van Buren Street). In addition, a $10 flat rate public valet station, located at 1925 Hollywood Boulevard, is open Thursday to Sunday, from 5 pm to 5 am.

For more information about redevelopment projects, businesses, new investment, and streetscape improvements in Hollywood's Downtown and Beach Districts, call the Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) at 954-924-2980 or visit

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