WALLINGFORD — This month, Michael’s Trattoria marks 25 years of serving up authentic Italian dishes at its Center Street location.
“It’s been a good time and it's been a very good run,” said owner and town resident Michael Tiscia.
To celebrate the milestone, the restaurant is offering $25 entrees over the next three weeks.
“The whole community has been great to me so I want to give something back and create excitement,” Tiscia said.
The anniversary special — $25 prix fixe dinner menu — applies to all entrees and includes salad and a choice of cheesecake or chocolate cake. It will run Monday through Thursdays, from July 15 to 31.
Michael’s Trattoria, 344 Center St., opened in July of 1994, at a fraction of the size it is now. Over the years, Tiscia acquired more space next door in the building, gradually expanding to four rooms and an outdoor patio.
The menu has classics like spaghetti and meatballs and pizza. Also, filet mignon and swordfish puttanesca. There are usually about four daily specials.
The pizza menu, available in the lounge, offers spinach, chicken and ricotta, white pie prosciutto, tomato, broccoli rabe and sausage and others.
Deserts include homemade creme brulee and banana cream pie. “It's like a cake pie and it's phenomenal. it's our number one selling dessert,” Tiscia said, crediting Head Chef Gerry Demery with the creation.
Demery has been working at Michael’s Trattoria for 24 years.
“There's lots of jobs out there but this is like family, it really is,” Demery said.
Bartender and floor manager Kelly Lawler started at the restaurant when she was 16 and has stayed for 15 years.
Lawler said Tiscia treats everyone like family.
“This place is kind of the hub for a lot of people in Wallingford,” Lawler said. “I don't think there would be such a good sense of community (in Wallingford) if Michael's wasn't here.”
To stay open and profitable, Tiscia said he has focused on fresh, quality ingredients, updated furnishings and consistency in the food.
“Our red sauce tastes the same 25 years ago as it does now,” he said.
Tiscia, who grew up in Stamford, started in the restaurant industry when he was around 10, learning to cook from his grandmother and run restaurants from his father and grandfather.
Before coming to Wallingford in the late 80s, he owned several other restaurants and food businesses, jumping around Connecticut and also spending time in California at Victoria Station in Universal City and Universal Studios, where he would cater for shows for performers like Elton John and Donna Summers.
He was happy to get away from L.A. and back to Connecticut, but said celebrities come in now and then while they’re at the Oakdale Theatre, including Tony Bennett a few times.
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