SOUTHINGTON — An Italian pizza restaurant that opened in December is closed after a fire Tuesday night.
Mamma Mia, 1765 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike, caught fire just after 10 p.m. According to fire Battalion Chief Eric Heath, firefighters found fire coming from a rear exhaust vent and heavy smoke inside and outside. The fire was extinguished in about an hour and there were no reported injuries.
Luigi Camputaro owns the restaurant. He’s helped by his three nephews, who also run a banquet facility in Italy and his daughter Marina Geraci of Southington.
They renovated the former diner late last year and expanded the building to accommodate a 6,000 pound pizza oven special-ordered from Italy.
Massimo Riccitelli, a friend of the Camputaros, said Wednesday that most of the family was in Italy or couldn’t be at the restaurant. He was surveying the damage to report back to the owners as well as manage contractors who were securing the building.
Riccitelli and other family friends gathered outside the restaurant Wednesday afternoon. He wasn’t sure what the Computaros planned to do since it was so soon after the fire.
“We’ve got to see what the insurance company says,” Riccitelli said.
They’d built a strong following and likely want to reopen.
“They love their customers,” he said.
There’s little visible damage from outside. The dining room windows were covered with soot and inside debris covered the tables and chairs.
John Smigel, the town’s chief building official, said damage was the heaviest in the kitchen and stairwell behind the dining area. Ceiling tiles were destroyed when firefighters turned hoses on them, wiring was destroyed and there was smoke damage throughout the building.
“There’s extensive damage to be replaced prior to them reopening. It’s not going to be a couple weeks,” he said.
The pizza oven and surrounding areas were spared serious damage, Smigel said.
Fire from the first floor kitchen area charred the stairwell and joists for the second floor. Town engineering officials will determine what needs to be done to make the building safe.