Serving the CT shoreline
Our owner is passionate about the cuisine of his native place, Italy. “The food there is just wonderful,” he said. But since traveling there is both time consuming and expensive, he offers the local DeNovellis Family Restaurant to bring a taste of Italy closer to home.
Enzo DeNovellis lived in Abruzzo, a town about two hours south of Rome. At the age of eight, he and his family moved to the U.S. to settle in Hartford. In his youth, he worked for his cousins who ran a pizza/grinder shop, known as Franklin Giant Grinders. Mr. DeNovellis eventually opted for a change and opened a café that he ran for eight years. Afterwards, he took a break from the food industry, but is now back!
His wife Debra and the children - David, Devin and Danielle all convinced him to get back into the restaurant business. After some research, he convinced the owner of Il Fratelli to let him buy the business. After the exchange and some new paint and décor, the restaurant opened on April 19, 2006. “We made it really warm and welcoming,” Mr. DeNovellis said about the work done to renew the restaurant. He hopes that the business will become a true family restaurant, where mom and dad can enjoy a nice veal dinner while the children have a favorite dish like macaroni and cheese. Mr. DeNovellis describes his restaurant as the sort of place where you don’t have to wear a suit and tie to have a good dinner.
There is a vast menu with a wide range of selections like pizzas and grinders, salads, seafood dishes, veal, chicken, pasta and grill from which to choose. “Our food is the freshest,” say Mr. DeNovellis. The menu is affordable, with prices ranging from $10.50 for a large pizza up to around $20 for the dinner entrée selections, many of which are served with a salad, bread, and pasta.
Specials are offered daily including fresh scallops florentine and roasted veal and grilled eggplant. There are many dishes that Mr. DeNovellis is planning to add to the menu in the near future.
Some of the menu items are named after places or people near and dear to the owner’s heart. For instance, the Rigatoni di Abruzzi is in honor of the town where he grew up. This dish is comprised of rigatoni pasta sautéed with bacon, onions, and prosciutto in light cream tomato sauce. The Chicken di Nona is named after his grandmother and is a dish of filet chicken rolled and stuffed with ricotta cheese, spinach, and sausage in light marinara pesto cream sauce.
“I just hope they enjoy their meal,” he said about his customers. “My main concern is that people are happy with their food. I’d love to have them approach me about what they think of their meals.”
Family is a large part of the business and Mr. DeNovellis has his wife and children, who help out in the kitchen and at the front counter. “It’s nice being able to see them grow. Hopefully, they can learn the business and take it over one day,” Mr. DeNovellis said. “They are good kids, have a good head on their shoulders.” David DeNovellis, 21, grew up in the restaurant business much like his father did. He now works alongside his dad and is in charge of making pizzas and grinders.
“I love to hear people say it’s the best pizza I’ve ever had,” said David. “I try to outdo myself every time I make something.” At one time a customer wanted a baked potato pizza. David admitted it was an odd request.
“We did it,” he said. “We baked up a potato and threw it on there.” He said many customers are finding the restaurant’s Buffalo chicken pizza to their liking. It is a combination of chicken in a spicy sauce, grated parmesan cheese, and mozzarella. Another popular item is the BBQ chicken pizza that comes with chicken in BBQ sauce. It’s something David said that is not found in too many places.
Currently, David is taking courses in physical education, but said he has been enjoying the restaurant business. “I love doing it. It’s the only thing I’ve been doing since I’ve been old enough to work,” he said. But he has been learning much of the behind-the-scenes things from his father. Things like calling in orders or checking on shipments; "the things only my father currently has a handle on", David said.
He added that working with family can be interesting, as there are moments when family members bump heads from time to time. “Most of the time it’s nice,” he said of having his family around. “Everyone is comfortable with one another and we know how things work.” Family even extends to the employees, which Mr. DeNovellis described as being “one, big happy crew.” RHL
Visit Us for Indoor or Outdoor Dining at 192 East Main Street Clinton, CT 06413