Where in Westminster: Liberatore’s Ristorante

The entrance to Liberatore’s and adjoining outdoor patio seating. (Atticus Rice / McDaniel Free Press).The entrance to Liberatore’s and adjoining outdoor patio seating. (Atticus Rice / McDaniel Free Press).

Westminster, Maryland is the home of many Italian pizzerias and restaurants. One that is perhaps lesser known is Liberatore’s Ristorante. Located on Jermor Lane, it is in the corner of the 140 Village Shopping Center, which includes Dunkin Donuts, Shoppers, and Five Guys.

It’s a “hidden Italian gem in Westminster” said Kelsey W., a Yelp reviewer.

Liberatore’s Ristorante is a family-run restaurant.  The location in Westminster is one out of eight, found all over Maryland. It first opened in 2002, and 16 years later, the restaurant is undergoing renovations – while still staying open – to continue catering to their customers’ wants.

The restaurant organizes numerous parties during the weekends. It also counts on a large influx of regulars, whose names may as well be engraved into their booths. All of this is thanks to the staff, and particularly the owner, Pino Liberatore, who makes it his job to visit with all the customers and make their experience authentically Italian.

The Liberatore family is of Argentinean and Italian origin. The father, an Italian immigrant, moved to Argentina where he raised his three sons, Pino being the eldest. Their restaurants personify the family’s history and have an Italian home feel that comforts the customers.

The first-ever location opened in Eldersburg in 1988. Before that, the Liberatore men worked in the restaurant business as bussers, line cooks, and anywhere else they could.

Liberatore believes “[he] always [has] to give back to the restaurant.” Currently, he is working on modernizing the dining room and the menus.

“Italian food is always good,” said Liberatore. “What we do here in Liberatore’s is with passion.” The restaurant itself, he said, is a family.

Kathy Hercek has been the general manager at “Lib’s” for 15 years. Some of her duties include scheduling and managing staff, booking parties, correspondence, banking, and bookkeeping.

“Fridays and Saturdays are busy and always fun,” said Hercek. “But the weeknights are…more intimate [while] all nights are perfect for date nights.”

Hercek also keeps records of the reservations and has counted an average of 30 graduation meals for McDaniel graduates each year.

She said she is excited for the changes coming with the renovations. “The new restaurant will be modern, sleek, and classy, while still being warm and intimate,” said Hercek. She hopes business will soar after the remodel.

One of its former servers, Zachary Wraase, worked there for more than a year. He still goes in to help out when he can.

“The food is especially good,” said Wraase. “The appetizers are great.” His favorite is Liberatore’s famous grilled calamari.

Most restaurants only serve fried calamari, so the grilled style is unique to Liberatore’s.

Wraase said he hopes the best for the owner and the manager. “Both of them are great people and deserve the best,” he said. He is excited to go back and see how business is after the renovation.

To those who have never been, “you’ve been missing out,” said Liberatore. “I know you’ll be back once you give it a chance.”