Local Italian eatery Terra Mia Ristorante opened its doors five years ago with the support of Utah Valley’s Italian community. Since then, Terra Mia has been giving back to supporters.
Ernesto Lo Russo, restaurant owner and native of Naples, Italy, opened Terra Mia in 2009. A former teaching assistant in BYU’s Italian department, Lo Russo didn’t hesitate to give back to students. Shortly after the first pizza was sold, Lo Russo made both his services and his restaurant available to the BYU Italian Club.
“My restaurant was an idea that started in my heart a long time ago,” Lo Russo said. “I have always been very well-connected with BYU and the Italian club. I have been in contact with them since the beginning of Terra Mia.”
Over the past five years, Terra Mia has been involved in a number of BYU’s Italian club events. Terra Mia often hosts club events at the restaurant and frequently provides a space for presentations to take place.
“Because Terra Mia is an authentic napoletana pizzeria we started doing activities involving pizza,” said Dwayne Irvin, the two-year president of the club. “Students get to learn about pizza, the culture of pizza and how it’s made.”
The restaurant support extends past hosting events within its doors. Lo Russo frequently offers gift cards as a way to support club activities that take place on campus. These activities fulfill requirements for participation in “cultural events.” These events are frequented by Italian speakers of all skill levels (beginning students to instructors themselves) and provide those in attendance the opportunity to learn more about Italian culture and to practice their language skills.
“Each time that I have come [to Terra Mia] with the club they give us food, and often there is a presentation talking about Italian cuisine,” said Ginger Dall, a 21-year old illustration major at BYU who has been studying Italian for two years. “We talk to the waiters in Italian, and we talk to each other in Italian. We try to make it an authentic experience.”
For more information about the BYU Italian club and the activities it sponsors, follow them on Facebook or speak with a representative of the Italian department at BYU. Contact information for the club can be found by clicking here.
Terra Mia Ristorante is located on 1050 S. 750 East, across from the University Mall CineMark Theaters, and is open Monday–Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday–Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.