For Cheshire residents, access to a variety of great-quality pizza has never been a serious issue.
With popular restaurants like Pop’s Pizza and Rossini’s practically across the street from each other, there has usually been something for everyone craving a cheesy fix.
That was, at least, until George Constanti showed up.
When Constanti announced earlier this year that he would be opening his own pizza restaurant — Fuoco Apizza — on West Main Street, many Cheshire residents were confused at the thought of yet another pizza place opening in town, but Constanti believes he knows exactly what he is doing.
“We’re not another pizza restaurant at all,” Constanti explained. “It’s an art form, really.”
Fuoco Apizza will be the first coal-fired pizza restaurant to open in Cheshire. The shop features a specialized coal-fired pizza oven, flown in directly from Italy. For Constanti and his family, who live and breathe pizza, it’s just another day at the office, but one that requires equal parts precision and passion.
“You have to know what you are doing with the coals. The coals themselves require special attention, and that’s before you get the pizza even in there,” he added.
Constanti’s restaurant was slated to open in February, but a lot has happened since then. After pushing the opening back deeper into the winter, the world was turned upside-down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants were forced to close or offer only take-out or pickup to customers throughout much of April and May before the state began a phased-in reopening on May 20.
Once Connecticut started easing up on restrictions for restaurants to reopen, Constanti and his crew went right back to work. But then Tropical Storm Isaias pounded the state and resulted in thousands of residents going without power for days, and plans to open the pizzeria were pushed back once again.
“We were really thrown a huge curveball. We were so close to opening up, but we had to put everything on pause when the virus hit,” he lamented.
“We lost power during Isaias, which pushed our opening date back even further. Luckily, we didn’t lose any product, but it was a rough time for us, for sure,” he continued.
The new restrictions imposed by the pandemic forced Constanti to reevaluate his business plan, which originally centered around a dine-in pizza restaurant.
“We had to eliminate the dining room entirely,” he said. “We are going to operate as take-out only. But we are also going to offer fresh salads and wings so there will be something for everyone.”
The new soft opening date was set for Aug. 25, with initial Fuoco Apizza hours being from 4 to 9 p.m. for take-out only. Constanti is eager to open his doors, and is well aware of the hype he has received online from local residents.
“People really are excited to try our food,” he said. “People are asking me every day when we are going to get opened up, which is really heartwarming.”
Since Fuoco Apizza began adverstising, they have been posting mouth-watering pictures of their specialty pizzas, enticing both Cheshire residents and out-of-towners alike.
“I can’t wait to try you guys when I come back to CT,” commented Danielle Rious on Fuoco’s most recent Instagram photo. “This looks amazing!”
Fuoco Apizza has had to undergo rigorous evaluations by the Chesprocott Health District to not only ensure the restaurant is safe for customers, but also make sure all customers and employees are safe from each other.
Constanti has invested a lot of money in PPE and masks for his restaurant, and is well aware of the risks he is facing by opening a business during this time.
“The biggest thing here is that we all stay socially distanced, but most importantly, if you’re sick stay home!” he added.
More information about Fuoco Apizza’s grand opening and business can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Pizza-Place/Fuoco-Apizza-113627203340680/.