SOUTHINGTON — A local chef is opening a pizza restaurant on Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike after a career in the food industry.
Sonny Giancarlo plans to open Fontana Pizza at 1314 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike today. It’s named after the town where he started working in Italy as a chef.
He’s also worked at Zingarella Restaurant in Plantsville and other area eateries.
The new restaurant will offer pizzas, pasta dishes, wraps, grinders and salads. Giancarlo said it’s important to use the best ingredients and know how to cook it all properly. He’s excited about the Fontana special, a pizza that includes chicken, broccoli, garlic and roasted pepper.
“It’s not about the toppings though, it’s about the way you make the make the sauce, the type of cheese you put on it,” Giancarlo said. “You can put the same ingredients but different quality and it’s not going to come out the same.”
He plans to focus on delivery and take-out business since there is little seating in his new restaurant.
Former pizza spot
Fontana will be opening in the former Verona Pizza location started by Sal Ajro in May 2020.
Ajro and his family owned Sal’s Pizza in Marion until it closed in 2011 so he could focus on catering. He’s known in the region as the owner of Sal’s Verona Fire Truck Pizza, a mobile pizza oven in a converted fire truck. Ajro and his family have a location in Waterbury, which supports the pizza truck operation. He couldn’t be reached for comment on his former Southington location.
Giancarlo found he didn’t have to do too much to the restaurant to get it back in operation. He started work a few months ago.
“It was a pizza place before,” he said. “I did have to put work into it, to clean it and paint it and put the equipment in and fix things that weren’t working.”
Aldi Stringa, Giancarlo’s cousin, is helping with marketing and social media. Stringa said the location was strategic since it can serve customers in Southington, Cheshire, Wolcott and Plainville.
Southington is a competitive town for Italian food, Stringa said, with so many pizza restaurants.
The restaurant has had a soft opening for walk-in customers for the past few days.
“The good thing is that all our customers who have tried us out so far, they really like the food,” Stringa said.