It may be one of the newer restaurants to hit the downtown Bradenton scene, but Retro City is all about nostalgia. The 1950’s-themed diner and deli is precisely the kind of place where, in a bygone era, one might expect to run into leather jacket-clad greasers and girls in poodle skirts splitting two-straw milkshakes on their way to the sock hop or a drive-in movie.
The restaurant décor includes old motorcycles and guitars, mounted antique car parts and photographs and images of retro celebrities and cultural icons such as James Dean, Elvis and Betty Boop. The menu features a wide array of classic diner fare with a few fun twists.
Located in the Suntrust building at 1001 3rd Avenue West, the restaurant opened its doors to serve breakfast and lunch in a year ago in November, later extending its hours to include dinner, as well. In its first year in business, Retro City has gained a following as a popular breakfast, lunch and dinner spot due to its extensive, affordable menu and fun, old-fashioned diner atmosphere.
Husband and wife team, Romuald Marasinski and Rebecca Picasso, who relocated to Bradenton from Albany, New York in 2008, combined their experience in the restaurant consulting and marketing industry to create a restaurant with a fun, retro theme that complements the diner-style food featured on the menu.
“We always wanted to open a breakfast and lunch spot, and when we moved down here, we realized this was the perfect location,” said Picasso. “We had a lot of theme ideas in mind, but when we saw this place, it really spoke to us.”
Picasso and said that she and her husband fell in love with the Friendly City while vacationing in Sarasota and were drawn to downtown Bradenton’s burgeoning social scene.
“We lived in an urban setting for awhile and were both ready to move away from it. I grew up in a town very similar to Bradenton, so this area is nostalgic for me — but at the same time, it really seems like Bradenton is on the rise,” Picasso said.
“There are all these events going all year that draw families to the area, and now that the Riverwalk is open, it’s bringing even more people in, which is great for all the businesses downtown,” she added.
The motto at Retro City is “Great food never goes out of style,” which is evidenced in the menu full of burgers and sandwiches, omelets, quesadillas and other classic diner food. The restaurant also features homemade soups crafted from Marasinski’s own family recipes.
In addition to simple, traditional dishes, Retro City also throws a few curve balls on the menu.
The Elvis PBBJ — a sweet and savory dish inspired by the notoriously bizarre tastes of the King himself —includes bacon and sliced banana on a traditional peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich. The Gusto Mio Quesadilla puts an Italian twist on quesadillas with pesto, fresh spinach and Pecorino-Romano and mozzarella cheeses.
The wildest menu item at Retro City, the “Don’t Tell Doc,” does not make an appearance on the standard menu — likely because doctors throughout the city would start a riot if they knew their patients were eating it. A burger, a fried egg, bacon and cheese are sandwiched between two donuts in this heart-stopper, which also comes with a side of fries. The Don’t Tell Doc occasionally makes an appearance on Retro City’s specials menu.
The neat 1950s atmosphere, combined with tasty diner and deli fare, makes for one of the most “far out” restaurants in town — so strap on your blue suede shoes, hop in your hot rod and head downtown to Retro City for some good times and great chow.