It was a bit of honest advice from nonna that first got Sebastiano Nicolia -- the owner of a new pizza shop in Stratford -- into authentic Italian cooking.
"Just in case you don't find a girl, you need to know how to cook," was his grandmother's subtle warning when she taught him as a boy how to make homemade pasta.
Well, girlfriend or not, Nicolia, now 30, learned how to cook. And now he's offering his Italian cuisine expertise to the Stratford community.
Fat Sammy's Pizzeria at 1 Woodend Road is the newest pizza place in town, holding its grand opening today, Tuesday, Dec. 13.
"If I wouldn't eat it, I'm not going to serve it," Nicolia said of his ingredients. From the pizza to the pasta, everything's authentic Italian, he said. "If I can put out a product that people say is real pizza, real pasta, then I'm happy."
"I want people to feel like they are at a pizzeria in New York City," he said.
Nicolia said part of the reason he wanted to open up his own restaurant came from the frustration he met with "fake" Italian food broadcast as the real deal. He said he's been to many so-called Italian restaurants which served food that wouldn't "fly on our dinner table."
Nicolia, a Trumbull resident, is a first-generation Italian-American whose parents immigrated from Frosinone, Italy, which is about an hour southeast of Rome. His Italian cuisine training came from working at Italian restaurants and pizza shops since high school -- and family dinners.
"If you didn't see everybody through the week, you knew you'd see them at Sunday dinner," Nicolia said. For la famiglia, dinner is the "centerpiece of everything," he said, adding that family members will be helping out at the restaurant.
Although the property Fat Sammy’s is moving into has seen its number of pizzerias come and go over the last 10 to 15 years, Nicolia said he hopes his product will speak for itself -- and, in turn, sustain itself financially.
"I want to be part of the neighborhood," Nicolia said.
Fat Sammy’s opens today and tomorrow with a special promotion: Buy a large pie for $7, pick-up only. Try the “9/11 FealGood Foundation Pizza,” a white pie with veggie toppings, which, for every pizza sold, $1 is donated to the FealGood Foundation, a group that supports 9/11 first responders.
Fat Sammy’s is open Tuesday thru Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. For more information, visit fatsammyspizza.com. The phone number is 203.870.6422. Indoor seating is also available.