Prince George's residents have yearned for years for more upscale dining options. And they're beginning to get them.
One of the newest is a homegrown creation. LaVonda Bailey, an Italian food lover, Mitchellville resident and former stay-at-home mother, recently opened Reggiano's Gourmet Market in Largo.
The cafe-style restaurant and store at the Boulevard at the Capital Centre is named for two Reginalds: Bailey's husband and 21/2-year-old son.
"We've always had a love for Italian cuisine and products," Bailey said. "Before doing this, we were constantly eating in places like Washington, D.C., and Virginia."
While greeting customers, Bailey explains what the market offers. Under the direction of chef Nico Amroune, Reggiano's serves authentic Italian food, including about a dozen flavors of smooth Italian gelato and pasta sauce prepared with San Marzano tomatoes, which are imported from a small town outside Naples. Pizza, sub sandwiches and hot panini are also available.
Many of the products Amroune and his staff use to make the pasta dishes are sold in the market area of the intimate restaurant. A few of the dining tables are placed near the window. Meals are also available to go.
"People are very busy, so we are trying to make it easy," Bailey said, before interrupting herself to greet someone.
"Hi, there," she said, waving. "That's one of our returning customers. People get so excited and invite other people."
Telecom Bills Forgiven
Does the name NorVergence Inc. ring a bell?
Federal and state regulators have accused the New Jersey-based telecommunications company of defrauding thousands of businesses nationwide.
But relief may be in sight for nearly 300 NorVergence customers in Maryland.
In November, the FTC charged NorVergence with falsely promising huge savings to small businesses on their monthly telephone, cellular phone and Internet bills. The purported source of the savings: a black box that the FTC said was nothing more than a standard telephone router.
NorVergence would rent the boxes at inflated prices -- $400 to $5,700 a month -- and then sell the rental contracts at a discount to third-party finance companies for quick cash.
"NorVergence was able to provide a few early customers with discounted services only because it used the proceeds of contracts from new customers," the FTC said.
NorVergence shut down in July, leaving more than 11,000 businesses without service. Even so, the finance companies that purchased the rental contracts kept billing those businesses. Debts piled up. Customers complained.
Enter Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. (D).
Under a recent settlement with Curran's office, four finance companies agreed to forgive $5.7 million in debt amassed by 278 Maryland customers throughout the state.
CIT Technology Financing Services Inc., General Electric Capital Corp. and U.S. Bancorp Business Equipment Finance Group will forgive 85 percent of the outstanding balances. Wells Fargo Financial Leasing Inc. will forgive 86 percent.
Maryland businesses eligible to participate in the settlement will be notified by mail in about a month.
Washington Post Staff Writer Dina ElBoghdady contributed to this report. If you have news about businesses in Prince George's County, please send an e-mail to email@example.com.