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Scotto's Cafe closes in Festival at Bel Air after 23 years

Scotto's Cafe closes in Festival at Bel Air after 23 years
After 23 years at the Festival of Bel Air, Scotto's Cafe has closed. The owners say they are looking for another location. (ERIKA BUTLER | AEGIS STAFF)

Scotto's Cafe, an Italian restaurant that is among the oldest eateries at the Festival at Bel Air Shopping Center, closed its doors Sunday after 23 years.

Owner Diego Colamonaco said Monday they decided to close after being unsuccessful at negotiating a more favorable lease with management of the shopping center off of Route 24 and Bel Air South Parkway, a couple of miles south of downtown Bel Air. Representatives of JBG Rosenfeld Retail, LLC, of Chevy Chase, which manages the shopping center, have not responded to a request for comment on the issue.

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Scotto's served its last dinners Sunday evening, Colamonaco said.

"It's very sad, you know?" he said Monday while cleaning some things out of the restaurant. "We had some customers who came in here three, four, five times a week."

On Sunday, he said, he's never seen so many people cry.

Colamonaco has many memories over the 19 years that he's been with Scotto's, including the night his wife's water broke while sitting in a booth.

He thanked his customers.

"It was just like a family," he said. "Thank you for the support all these years and being part of our family."

For now, Colamonaco will be working at Italian Sensation in Fallston, where is a part owner. If he finds the right site, he'll reopen.

A sign posted on the restaurant's door reads:

"We regret to inform you that after 23 years of business, we will be closing our Bel Air location. We have been negotiating with the shopping center for several months, and they are unwilling to compromise. As much as we enjoy serving you authentic Italian cuisine, we are still a business, and we cannot keep up with the ever increasing rent imposed by the shopping center.

"Our goal is to find another suitable location so we may continue to serve our loyal customers."

Steve Kraus and his wife have been eating at Scotto's for 15 years. They said it's some of the best Italian food around.

"It's very disappointing. We've been coming here for years," Kraus said Monday night outside the restaurant. "We like these good neighborhood businesses. The owners are great people, very friendly, they've been part of this neighborhood for years."

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