The building is unlike any other in town. Red brick captures your attention immediately, your eyes follow the trail of gold detail to evergreen doors which feed into black brick and gold painted letters. Floor to ceiling windows invite onlookers in with the reflections of cozy lighting and vivacious guests. Alimentari Da Pesavento, Bar Bosco. To step through Bar Bosco’s front door is to step through a time portal.
The aroma of fresh bread and herbs wraps itself around guests like a warm blanket. Bartenders smile as they pour brightly colored concoctions into intricately detailed crystal glasses.
The hostess greets you before taking you through the bar and into the Prim donna Room. 17th century paintings line the walls and ceiling. Mosaic tables filled with lively guests dot the room.
"This room means a lot to us,” said co-owner Joe Everhart. “We wanted to design something more intimate.”
Owners Joe Everhart and Ken Ramsey hand-picked the furniture and artwork in each room. Every piece is meant to invoke a sense of dining in an old Italian relative’s home.
“The art we have been collecting for a long time, two paintings are 17th century Luca, another is a 16th century painting from Rome,” he said. “To me, it’s like ancestral portraits, especially the religious ones. That resonates with a lot of the people who come here.”
If the artwork doesn’t speak to you, the food certainly will. Lasagna, pear ravioli, fettuccine, gnocchi ala romana, pappardelle bolognese, these meals are prepared to order with an array of fresh ingredients and pay homage to Everhart’s ancestral home. “A lot of the food I grew up with was based in Asiago, Italy. The food we offer is more like what our Nona would make,” he said. “We wanted to be able to hand-craft the pastas. We traveled around and looked at different ways of making the pasta; we went all the way to the culinary institute of Bologna.”
The entire menu honors his family and the tiny town north of Terre Haute, he called home – Clinton. “It was a fairly exotic place to grow up,” he recalled. “At the grocery stores, some folks would speak in Italian, even some of the signs were in Italian.”
These childhood memories inspired the Alimentari Da Pesavento side of the restaurant. Alimentari is Italian for market, Pesavento’s Market. Everhart and Ramsey sell pasta, bread, bakery items and wines to hungry customers who wish to experiment with Italian cuisine at home. The shop is adorned with family photos, cabinets original to the building itself and a bakery counter filled to the brim with dreamy desserts. But the crown jewel, is the pasta machine, located behind a glass window so guests can watch the magic happen. “The pasta machine, we searched for the absolute best,” explained Everhart. “This one was made in Florence, Italy. This model hasn’t changed in decades.”
Something else that hasn’t changed in decades, Ramsey and Everhart’s love for Terre Haute. While the two have lived primarily in Indianapolis for 30 years, family keeps them firmly planted in Terre Haute. While visiting family a few years ago, the two heard the unfortunate news – Simrell's, a favorite tavern in town was closing for good. Like many other residents, they strolled into Simrell’s for the last time, unaware of what fate had in store for them. “We wanted to take a trip down memory lane. It was such a shame that this incredible building wasn’t living
up to its full potential,” said Everhart. “Within a year of its closing, we bought it.”
The couple had taken on renovations before, and this was no small task. “The renovation was a lot more in depth than we had planned,” Everhart recalled. “It has been through a lot and anyone who ever went to Simrell’s knew exactly how much it went through in its heyday.” The northside of the building, which is now home to the Alimentari, once served the community as a grocer and then a pharmacy. In fact, residents may recognize the iconic ceiling tiles and back bar cabinets original to the building from its pharmacy days.
During renovations, Everhart went down the rabbit hole of the building’s history and was amazed at what he found. “It was an Italian restaurant, which I had no idea. It blew my mind. My cousins had a first date there years ago. It’s interesting to continue that history and give it a different take on it.”
The two could have taken their restaurant to Indianapolis, but their hearts aren’t in Indianapolis. Their hearts are here in Terre Haute. The ticket to exquisite Italian food, is heart, soul. Something the couple wanted so badly to bring to the community. “Terre Haute is a great place to live, and we intentionally came back because of the people,” said Everhart. “We wanted to give an environment evocative of the travel and experiences we have had.”
Dining at Bar Bosco is an experience, from the food to the atmosphere. Guests are quickly transported to a corner bistro in Asiago, Italy. “This is not like anything else you’d find in Terre Haute,” said Everhart. Who needs to book a vacation away when you can dine in Terre Haute’s own Little Italy.
Oh, and be sure to order the pear ravioli. Fresh pear raviolis smothered in a creamy taleggio cheese sauce, topped with asparagus, you won’t regret it.