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 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.
All of the eatery’s breads are also baked in-house and the salads are made from local, farm fresh produce.
The restaurant's owners are Maria and Tony Prifitera. Some of their family recipes are included on the menu, including Maria's pane cotto, chocolate-chip bread pudding and tiramisu, along with the couple's specialty, 5-inch meatballs.
“We cook them in our sauce and they soak in all that incredible flavor,” Joe says.
Tony and Maria opened the restaurant in 2021 in a former department store. The eatery has quickly earned a reputation for its flavorful, thin crust pizza, generous portions and a huge selection tap beers.
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. 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. 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.”
There are 50 beers on tap, many of them craft and local brews. Sicily's fresh drinks menu changes with the season. 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.
The owners currently are in the process of expanding their wine bar into the building next door. The new wine bar will feature 72 different wines by the glass, ranging from $5-$150 per glass and over 5,000 bottles. There will also be a "speakeasy" private event room with a raw bar, 15 different types of charcuterie boards house-made desserts by our pastry chef.
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 specialty - chicken parmigiana, and Joe’s Philly Cheesesteak, which has shaved ribeye, caramelized onions and creamy American cheese. There are also butcher block steaks, sandwiches, burgers and specialty “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
On Facebook: @sicily-coal-fired-pizza
Mon. - Wed. & Sun. 11:30 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Thurs. - Sat., 11:30 am - 12:00 pm