WALLINGFORD – Serafino’s Ristorante is under new ownership, as longtime town resident Favio Pillacela has taken over the local Italian restaurant with his cousin.
Pillacela, a native of Ecuador, has lived in Wallingford for over two decades and has a wealth of experience in the restaurant business, including time as chef at Vespucci’s Restaurant in Cheshire. He and Carlos Otavalo, of Danbury, officially took over Serafino’s, 72 S. Turnpike Road, on Oct. 30 after Ciro Schiano DiCola decided to sell the restaurant after nearly 40 years.
Pillacela used to work for DiCola at a pizzeria in Waterbury.
“(DiCola) knows I love the restaurant business, and I love cooking,” Pillacela said. “He said I should buy this place, but I needed help. So I called my cousin.”
With the help of Otavalo, who owns two other restaurants, Pillacela has begun his quest to change Serafino’s for the better, while keeping its signature items in place.
“I want to offer more variety,” Pillacela said. “I want a restaurant for everyone. I want people to be able to bring the whole family. But the things that work here, I won’t change.”
Serafino’s popular stuffed breads will remain a fixture, but Pillacela plans to add new signature pizzas to the menu, including a gorgonzola pizza and a prosciutto pizza. He also added steaks to the menu, as well as a kids’ menu.
“I think the food will be better,” said longtime customer and Wallingford resident Paul Franco, who has been coming to the restaurant with his family for as long as he can remember. “The menu was the same for the past 20 years, so this should be more diverse.”
Pillacela only ate at Serafino’s once before taking the restaurant over, and recognized the benefits of change while acknowledging the restaurant’s potential.
“The food was good, but I want something special,” Pillacela said. “I know I can change it, and I know I can cook.”
For inspiration, Pillacela sought out his former mentor, who handed the deed of the restaurant over to him.
“I asked (DiCola) for his advice, and he said to keep the restaurant clean, make good food and provide good service,” Pillacela said. “This location has potential.”