GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. -- Peyton Manning announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday. The move has many thinking about the void Manning will leave behind if No. 18 decides to leave the city.
That is the case for Alessandro Carollo, the owner of Venice Restorante near the Denver Tech Center. Carollo said the Mannings were regulars at his Italian eatery. He remembers the first time Manning dined at the restaurant.
“Very exciting. We’ve been having a lot of football players here. So we are used to having people like them but we didn’t expect Manning,” Carollo said.
Manning sat with his family at a table that would become his usual spot in the dining room. What might be surprising for some is that Manning didn’t eat chicken Parmesan.
“He had a veal caprese, our version of veal Parmesan,” Carollo said.
For Carollo, it was a pleasure to get to know a side of the champion most fans don’t get to see.
“For us, we are going to lose a great person and the family. The family was really beautiful,” he said.
Manning’s announcement has Carollo and his staff thinking back to the special moments such as seeing Manning share meals with Broncos coach Gary Kubiak and Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager John Elway.
“They were like a family, like brothers. The way they were talking to each other. I think John Elway and Gary Kubiak are really going to miss Manning,” Carollo said.
They won’t be the only ones. Other standout memories include the time Manning rented a private room to celebrate his wife's birthday and the time Manning was at the restaurant on a night his “Saturday Night Live” skits aired.
Manning asked if they could watch it from the bar's TVs.
“Everyone was here at the bar, enjoying those moments with Peyton Manning,” Carollo said.
Venice Restorante also has catered events for Manning’s PeyBack Foundation. Carollo said it was through several moments over the past few years that he learned what really makes Manning so great.
“This is not a person that does stuff because he wants his name out,” Carollo said.”This is a person because he feels to do it. It comes from his heart.
“He was telling me a story about visiting children at the hospital and reminded me how fortunate we are to have a family that is healthy.”
About a week ago, Manning drove by the restaurant and dropped off a signed Super Bowl picture. Carollo believes it was Manning’s way of saying thank you, and perhaps also goodbye.
“Those are things that make a difference in a person that makes and you get attached to that person,” Carollo said.