Vito’s Pizza restaurant opens on the Berlin Turnpike in Connecticut
Vito’s Pizza has taken the place of the former Pure Pizza, bringing gourmet pizza and pasta to central Connecticut.
BERLIN, Conn. — The Berlin Turnpike has a new authentic Italian restaurant.
Vito’s Pizza has taken the place of the former Pure Pizza, bringing gourmet pizza and pasta to Central Connecticut, operated by Chef Rob Maffucci.
Vito had a soft opening last week, but word spread quickly and they had to “pick up the phone” on the second day, just because of the number of orders coming in!
Thankfully, Maffucci had a few minutes between orders to sit down with FOX61 to talk about his latest venture.
RELATED: Study offers hope for some peanut-allergic toddlers
His grandmother was a “great pasta maker,” Maffucci said, and he learned pizza making from his parents when they opened a store in the late 1970s. After more than 40 years in the food and culinary industry, Maffucci is working smarter with its latest establishment. Vito’s operates on a “100% take-out” basis. They also offer catering.
“A full-service restaurant is very complicated to manage,” he said. “And in these times, you have to be lean and mean and stick to a smaller menu and, you know, stick to culinary excellence.”
“We’ve gone back to basics, you know, comfort food, Italian comfort food, it’s good pizza, good pasta and the simple things in life,” he added.
Sign up for FOX61 newsletters: Morning forecast, morning headlines, evening headlines
Maffucci said he was delighted to be in Berlin, with lots of exposure in a central part of the state.
“There’s a huge population in this area that’s kind of underserved when it comes to good gourmet Italian food, so we thought it was a good move.”
Vito’s Pizza on Berlin’s toll highway
There’s even a city-inspired pizza called “Berlin Fare”, a nod to the local annual event, topped with garlic, sausage, peppers and onions that you might see passing by. in front of a fair trade food stand.
Other signature menu items include his pasta alla Roberto as well as bolognese, a dish he made when he took on chef Bobby Flay on Food Network in 2014.
“It was fantastic. It was one of those opportunities where I couldn’t turn it down when they offered it to me,” he said of the experience. “We had a great time and I showed what I could do and I was proud of what we could achieve. And it was very surreal too.”
RELATED: ‘Coach Meat’ | The iconic rocker had close ties to Connecticut
Maffucci has worked in the culinary and restaurant industry for decades, managing other establishments in downtown Hartford before the pandemic.
After COVID brought these restaurants down, Maffucci just rose again.
“I said to my wife ‘I feel like life is trying to grind me to flour’. And I said ‘the only thing I can do is earn more dough!'”
He was initially looking for a location for a restaurant operation, but for him “the obvious answer was: get back into the pizza business”.
He commends restaurant owners and chefs for their resilience as they were hit hard at the height of the pandemic.
“This whole COVID thing… restaurant people, they’re so resilient and they have such a great set of skills to survive and adapt,” Maffucci said. “That’s what you have to do in this restaurant business.”
The folks at Vito’s are taking things one step at a time, but eventually want to switch to online ordering from their website.
FOX61 reached out to the Connecticut Restaurant Association for comment regarding the opening of new local restaurants amid the pandemic.
Leah Myers is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at [email protected]
Do you have a story idea or something in mind that you want to share? We want to hear from you! Email us at [email protected]
HERE ARE MORE WAYS TO GET FOX61 NEWS
Download the FOX61 News app
iTunes: Click here to download
Google Play: Click here to download
Stream live on ROKU: Add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching FOX61.
Steam live on TV FIRE: Search ‘FOX61’ and click ‘Get’ to download.