SOUTHINGTON — Pizza maker Sal Ajro said he does things differently, like reopening in town in the midst of a pandemic.
He and his family owned Sal’s Pizza in Marion until it closed in 2011 so he could focus on catering. This week he returned to the local restaurant scene with Verona Pizza at 1300 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike.
“Some people close in tough times, I open up in tough times,” Ajro said.
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.
Catering, parties and events have all dried up he said.
Ajro has been looking to reopen in Southington and found a good spot on Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike that was formerly Sam the Clam’s 2 Go, across from the main restaurant.
Melissa Mauro, a longtime Sam the Clam’s employee, said the restaurant decided to bring the to-go operations into one building. All the same services are still available.
“Everything is just done out of our main restaurant,” Mauro said.
Opening week has been great, Ajro said, with former customers ordering take-out or delivery. The business has a few tables but is a small storefront and will remain mostly a to-go operation even after restrictions are lifted.
Tim Roarty, a former Southington resident who lives in Wolcott, was looking forward to getting some of his favorites, buffalo chicken pizza and potato pizza.
“I've been going there since I was a kid,” Roarty said. “I still need to try the new spot and hope to this weekend.”
Ajro said buffalo chicken is one of his top sellers. He started with a wood-fired brick oven pizza 20 years ago.
“When you put good ingredients, you don’t have to be a professional pizza maker. The oven does the job,” he said.
Verona’s Pizza will be open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.