The Dayton area’s oldest restaurant has reopened, and we have the menu

The new owners of an historic Dayton-area restaurant that traces its roots back more than two centuries have reopened the eatery.

And they’re promising not to do anything to diminish the historic significance of the 202-year-old structure.

The Florentine restaurant in Germantown is located in Ohio’s second-oldest inn that dates to 1816. Only the Golden Lamb in Lebanon traces its lineage back farther than the Florentine.

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Clay Alsip and Beth Vanden Berg, the local husband-and-wife team that purchased the Florentine on Jan. 3, had their “soft opening” in February of the 7,000-square-foot restaurant in the former inn at 21 W. Market St. following some minor kitchen renovations and a top-to-bottom cleaning. Now, they’re ready to introduce the restaurant more broadly to the community and to diners seeking a slice of Ohio history with their meals.

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“We are on our way toward making The Florentine a great destination and fine dining restaurant again,” Vanden Berg said. “Everyone on our staff works great as a team, with everyone focused on excellent service and serving great food.”

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The Florentine is open from 4 p.m. to midnight Wednesday through Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday.

“The kitchen ‘closes’ at 9 p.m., but that is subject to how busy we are with a late-night menu that is offered after 9 p.m.,” Vanden Berg said. Reservations are accepted but not required.

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Dinner specials will be offered daily. The menu keeps many of the favorites that the Florentine has served for years, and adds a few new twists.

Appetizers include Bacon-wrapped Prawns, Buffalo Tenders, a Veggie Platter with house-made Tzatziki and Hummus, Artichoke & Spinach Dip and Bacon-wrapped Jalapenos. Salad options include Caesar, Cobb and a Chopped Salad. Tomato Bisque and French Onion soups are available.

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Sandwiches include a lightly fried Orange Roughy with dill aioli, Mushroom & Merlot Burger, Buffalo Bleu Burger, Bruschetta Chicken and Ultimate Grilled Cheese.

Entrees include Shrimp Scampi Florentine, Pan-Roasted Orange Roughy, Herb-crusted Salmon, Pork Belly Mac & Cheese, and steak options including New York Strip, Ribeye and Petite Filet Mignon. An extensive wines-by-the-glass list includes five whites, six reds and three sparklers. A dessert menu and a kids menu are available.

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Alsip and Vanden Berg said that they wanted to make it clear their stewardship of The Florentine won’t in any way diminish its historic nature.

“We love this building, and we love Germantown,” Vanden Berg said. “We intend to preserve the historic charm of the building. We want to help bring it back to its heyday.”

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In their 2007 book "A Taste of Ohio History: A Guide to Historic Eateries and Their Recipes," authors Debbie Nunley and Karen Jane Elliott note that the Florentine "has withstood the passage of time."

“That ornate iron balcony, fabricated at the ironworks in the Oregon District of nearby Dayton, still stands today. In fact, the entire structure looks almost identical to its earlier days. The barn-red clapboard exterior trimmed in taupe looks like something you’d find on the set of an old Western. I kept expecting Marshal Dillon and Miss Kitty to come walking out the door.”

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