Before Mario Dabramo opened his namesake restaurant in 2017, he spent 30 years working in the construction business. He had always dreamed of opening a restaurant, but the timing had never felt right, until it did.
Like a true entrepreneur full of determination and oblivious to risk, Dabramo walked into the building that was to become his restaurant and asked the owner if she was interested in selling. She agreed, a deal was drawn up and three months later, Mario’s opened at 6031 Royalton Road. The spot has a storied history; it has housed a handful of now-closed restaurants like Caribbean Cowboy and Main Street Grill and once served as the city school bus garage as longtime North Royalton residents may remember. But it’s in new hands now and Dabramo and his team are determined to learn along the way and own a space that’s cozy, can handle anything from courting couples to families to large-scale fundraisers, and above all, please that ever-elusive North Royalton palate.
To go about shaping their space in 2017, which just recently underwent a second remodeling, Dabramo called on his construction background to transform the rough-and-tough Caribbean Cowboy into a warm and relaxed eatery with pub-style food. But more often than not, diners would come into Mario’s thinking they were in for a tasty Italian-Grandma like meal, so Dabramo and his team transformed the restaurant again; crafting a new from-scratch menu and changing the décor to more match the scene of an inviting Italian backyard, complete with vintage string lights, red-checkered tablecloths, chic framed scenes and family photography, and perhaps the coolest addition – a nearly 200-year-old wine press that once belonged to a Sicilian buddy growing up and was later passed down to Mario’s father. The wine press greets diners as they enter and exit the restaurant, and Mario himself remembers being a 12-year-old boy helping smash grapes on the machine and joking with his buddy to catch drips of the juice.
Plenty of vibrant flatscreen TVs dot the restaurant space, as does a great outdoor patio for North Royalton’s warmer months and appealing house music (I could hear “Piano Man” and the Stones as I asked my interview questions of Mario). And speaking of music, live bands are a huge Mario’s staple. Diners can come in every weekend to take in a mix of different local favorites perform live like the Pop Tarts, Frank & Dean and Cleveland legend Colin Dussault, who will appear March 8.
Mario’s menu incorporates a tasty mix of traditional Italian favorites, from the “Small Plates” section that includes Calamari, Mama’s Meatballs, Bruschetta, Italian Chips and Bacon-Parmesan Brussel Sprouts to the nice mix of “Soups & Salads” to the variety of burgers and sandwiches on the “Handhelds” menu to the “Pasta,” “House Plates,” “Flat Breads” and daily desserts. Throughout Lent, Mario’s will also feature fish dinners. There’s also bar service, daily happy hour specials, featured menu specials and more than 10 local beers on tap.
“This is something I’ve talked about doing since I was in my 20s and after spending 30 years in the construction business, I jumped ship,” Dabramo said from his perch at the bar. “I had no restaurant experience; I’ve never even worked in a restaurant, but I knew I had to give it a shot or it’d be one of those life-long regrets.”
Mario’s is open 3-11pm Monday-Thursdays, 3pm-midnight Fridays, noon-midnight Saturdays and noon-9pm Sundays. For more information, call Mario’s at (440) 457-7371 or visit
Contributing Writer