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Tony and Maria Prifitera inside their restaurant.

Featured Article

Sicily Coal Fired Pizza

The New Italian Restaurant in Middletown Features Craft Pizzas, Fresh Pasta and a Lively Vibe

On a recent Saturday afternoon the interior of Sicily Coal Fired Pizza is buzzing with the sounds of muted music, people talking, plates clinking and drinks being mixed at the bar. 

The new restaurant at 412 Main St., in Middletown offers a fresh take on an old favorite - pizza - and so much more.

There’s fresh pasta, made to order from Sicily’s own pasta extruder machine, along with homemade sauces. There is Berkshire cut bacon, cured in brown sugar, slow roasted and served with bourbon maple butter. It’s already become one of the favorites on Sicily’s robust appetizer menu, says Joe Lucci, Sicily’s executive chef. 

“If I took that off the menu I think people would come after me,” he jokes.  

All of the eatery’s breads are also baked in-house and the salads are made from local, farm fresh produce.

Some of Maria's and Tony's family recipes are included on the menu, including Maria's pane cotto, chocolate-chip bread pudding and tiramisu, along with the couple's speciality, 5-inch meatballs. 

"They’re the best damned meatballs you’ll ever have in your life,” Joe says. “We cook them in our sauce and they soak in all that incredible flavor.” 

Tony and Maria opened the restaurant last June in a former three-story department store. The eatery has quickly earned a reputation for its flavorful, thin crust pizza, generous portions and a huge selection of local and craft beers on tap. 

The centerpiece of Sicily Pizza is a massive coal-fired oven, imported from Italy. The dining room is a large, two-story space featuring a long, marble-topped bar, brick walls, oak floors and two staircases that lead to an upstairs lounge and the restaurant’s second bar. 

Joe, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America, worked at restaurants in large cities across the country and most recently owned restaurants in Southington and Woodbury. He came to work at Sicily, he says, because he was intrigued by the Prifitera’s passion for fresh, authentic Italian food. 

“Tony's and Maria’s vision was to have a high-end, upscale restaurant with everything made to order. Nothing is frozen, all of our pastas, pizza and sauces are made from scratch and our dishes are made to order.”

The coal oven, Joe says, burns at 800 degrees and can cook a pizza within 4-6 minutes, depending on its ingredients. 

“You can put a pizza into any gas-fired oven and it will always come out the same. But in a coal oven you really have to control the fire and the temperature. It’s definitely an art form. The pizza cooks differently depending on how you move it around in the oven and with the thin crust it gives the pizza a slightly charred, earthy, crunchy flavor that’s so unique and delicious.”  

At the bar, there are 50 beers on tap, many of them craft and local brews. Sicily's fresh drinks menu changes with the season. Some of the cocktails that were being mixed up this winter were concoctions such as Boozy Spiced Eggnog, Winter White Cosmo and a Blizzard Margarita. The wine list includes a full complement of whites and reds, available by the bottle or glass, as well as special reserve wines available by the bottle. 

Another unique aspect of Sicily, Joe says, is its open kitchen, located toward the back of the dining room. 

“I like working in an open kitchen because customers can see into it and that gives employees the mindset that you have to keep the kitchen clean and you have to be professional.”

The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. 

Sicily’s menu includes a wide variety of appetizers - nearly two dozen - large portion salads and fresh made pastas and sauces. There are also a variety of entrees featuring beef, chicken and fish. They include the house speciality - chicken parmigiana, and Joe’s Philly Cheesesteak, which has shaved ribeye, caramelized onions and creamy American cheese. There’s also butcher block steaks, sandwiches, burgers and speciality “Mac & Cheese” offerings on the menu. 

And then there’s the pizza. You can build your own pie or select from one of the many craft pizzas that Sicily offers, including broccoli rabe, chicken cutlet, white clam, bianco and shrimp, to name a few. 

“We like to keep the menu fresh and interesting,” Joe says. “We try to buy as many local ingredients as we can and we change our menu with the seasons. We just want to be the best that we possibly can be.” 

Sicily Coal Fired Pizza

412 Main St., Middletown

860-788-2237

sicilycoalfiredpizza.com

On Facebook: @sicily-coal-fired-pizza

Hours:

Mon. - Wed. & Sun. 11:30 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Thurs. - Sat., 11:30 am - 12:00 pm

  • Tony and Maria Prifitera behind the bar at their Sicily Coal Fired Pizza restaurant.
  • Executive Chef Joe Lucci prepares one of Sicily's craft pizzas.
  • All the bread at the restaurant is made on site.
  • Tony and Maria Prifitera inside their restaurant.