The transformation of a South Buffalo Italian restaurant is about to reach a much wider audience.
The Food Network announced the "Restaurant: Impossible" episode on Casa di Francesca's will air at 9 p.m. April 22 as part of the show's 17th season. The episode originally became available for streaming on Discovery+ on Jan. 28, but this new date is the first time it will appear on network TV.
Titled "Bogged Down in Buffalo," the Food Network gives a short description setting the table for the episode.
"In Buffalo, single father Steven Marchione is struggling to keep Casa Di Francesca's open after a series of tragic life events. His family's legacy restaurant is hopelessly rundown, filthy and losing money. Robert Irvine has 48 hours to make Steven the leader his restaurant needs to save the business and support his family."
The TV series sends hard-nosed celebrity chef Irvine into struggling, often dilapidated restaurants to show tough love as well as a blueprint for how to improve their situations quickly. Irvine and co. stopped at two other Buffalo-area restaurants, Park Vue Soul Food in Schiller Park and O'Neill's Stadium Inn, in 2020. The Park Vue episode has aired on Discovery+, and there's been no update on when O'Neill's will air.
Marchione opened the restaurant, at 2022 Seneca St. – a handful of blocks northwest of Cazenovia Park – in 2009 and met quick success, winning an award at the Taste of Buffalo, appearing on Buffalo's TV morning shows and receiving a strong review by then-News food critic Janice Okun. But the restaurant's rapid fall, stemming from Marchione's personal struggles, followed the death of his mother and business partner Mary Anne Marchione in 2014. The recovery has been anything but smooth.
"The floor dropped out on me personally," Marchione reflected Thursday, "and family took first position."
Without giving away too much of the episode, which was filmed Oct. 27-29, 2020, Marchione described what it was like to accept Irvine's blunt criticisms and implement the changes – even when it meant ditching family recipes integral to his early success.
"At one point I wanted to kill him – you don't know what to expect on the show," Marchione said. "He gives you hard criticisms that are real. You have to face it. There's no other way. You can't grow if you don't.
"I think they cut out the part where he's screaming at me," the owner added, with a laugh.