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Al Vento in south Minneapolis closes unexpectedly

Once upon a time, Al Vento's menu changed slightly daily, though a trio of bruschetta and Sea scallop spinach risotto with pomegranates seemed to "stay."

Once upon a time, Al Vento's menu changed slightly daily, though a trio of bruschetta and Sea scallop spinach risotto with pomegranates seemed to "stay." Star Tribune

Al Vento, the romantic Southern Italian bistro at East 50th Street and 34th Ave. South, closed abruptly last Friday. 

Some patrons arrived to claim their reservations only to be met with a sign on the door reading "Al Vento Will be closed until further notice,” while others received calls cancelling their reservations, with a notice informing Al Vento would be “closed indefinitely.” As of this morning, the restaurant’s OpenTable page reads “permanently closed.”

Opened in October 2004, Al Vento's fresh flavors and subtle ideas held diners rapt long after most restaurants fall out of favor. Heck, in 2013 – nine years after they debuted – Al Vento earned City Pages' nod for Best Italian Restaurant in the Cities.

As the weekend played out, a multitude of factors surfaced in chef-owner Jonathan Hunt’s decision to close the beloved business. Part of this can be blamed on south Minneapolis’ pasta wars (our words, not his). When neighbors ie Italian Eatery opened in 2015, they claimed a hearty chunk of business that had previously been all Al Vento’s.

Moreover, running a restaurant is just plain hard, folks. In the face of this, Hunt spent recent years expanding to operate his other ventures, Sparks and Rinata, before scaling back. Again, nothing’s easy even when you’re good at it, and everything takes a toll.

Closing the public-facing side of Al Vento proved a consequence of all the above. Yet there’s been some suggestion Al Vento might continue to live on in catering form, so die-hards need not fret.