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Vito's Pizza brings authentic Italian pizza and pasta to Berlin Turnpike

Vito's Pizza took the spot of the former Pure Pizza, bringing gourmet pizza and pasta to central Connecticut.

BERLIN, Conn. — The Berlin Turnpike has a new, authentic Italian eatery.

Vito's Pizza took the spot of the former Pure Pizza, bringing gourmet pizza and pasta to central Connecticut, operated by Chef Rob Maffucci.

Vito's had a soft opening last week, but word spread quickly, and they had to "take the phone off the hook" by day two just from how many orders were coming in!

Thankfully, Maffucci had a few minutes in between orders to sit down with FOX61 to talk about his latest venture.

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His grandmother was a "great pasta maker," Maffucci said, and he learned pizza making from his parents when they opened up a shop back in the late 1970s. After over 40 years in the food and culinary industry, Maffucci is working smarter with his latest establishment. Vito's operates on a "100% takeout" basis. They offer catering too.

"A full-service restaurant is very complicated to run," he said. "And in these times, you’ve gotta run lean and mean and stick with a smaller menu and, you know, just stick with the culinary excellence."

"We went right back to the basics, you know, comfort food, Italian comfort food is great pizza, great pasta, and the simple things in life," he added.

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Maffucci said he is excited to be in Berlin, with plenty of exposure in a central part of the state.

"There’s a huge population in this area that’s sort of underserved when it comes to good gourmet Italian food, so we thought this was a good move."

There is even a town-inspired pizza called "Berlin Fare", a nod to the local annual event, topped with the garlic, sausage, peppers and onions one might see when passing a fair food booth.

Other signature menu items include his Pasta alla Roberto as well as the Bolognese, a dish he prepared when he competed against Chef Bobby Flay on Food Network back in 2014.

"It was fantastic. It was one of those opportunities where I couldn’t turn it down when they offered it to me," he said of the experience. "We had a great time and I showed off what I could do and I was proud of what we could accomplish. And it was very surreal too."

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Maffucci has been in the culinary and restaurant industry for decades, managing other establishments in downtown Hartford before the pandemic.

After COVID brought those restaurants down, Maffucci just got right back up again.

"I said to my wife 'it just feels like life is trying to grind me up into some flour.' And I said 'the only thing I can do is make more dough!'"

He was initially scouting out a place for a catering operation, but to him, "the obvious answer was: Go back into the pizza business."

He applauds restaurant owners and chefs alike for staying resilient as they were hit hard at the height of the pandemic.

"This whole COVID thing...people in the restaurant business, they are just so resilient and they have such a great skill set for survival and adaptability," Maffucci said. "That’s what you have to do in this restaurant business."

The folks at Vito's are taking things one step at a time, but eventually, want to expand to online ordering from their website.

FOX61 reached out to the Connecticut Restaurant Association for comment regarding new local restaurants opening amid the pandemic.

Vito's Pizza is located at 1863 Berlin Turnpike in Berlin.

Leah Myers is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at lmyers@fox61.com

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