Pizza Today - June 2017 - 59

The company's second store opened
four years after the first, about 15 minutes away in Monroe, Connecticut. That
was close enough that Vazzano and his
management team could easily commute
from one store to another. Two other
stores opened after that.
Vazzano's tale is a familiar one.

"We grew up in Italian kitchens," he
says. "My grandmother, she's from Italy.
Both my sides, we made the traditional
gravy, and polenta -- a lot of old-school
things."
That type of cooking carries through
today, where Vazzano says "we do a lot of
the peasant food still. We do escarole and
beans. We do those because a lot of other
restaurants won't do them. People will
come in for it, like our pasta e fagioli."
But that doesn't mean Vazzy's menu
is so Old World that it lacks variety
and creativity. "We have an extensive
blackboard every night of what's fresh,"
he says.
It's at this point in the conversation
that I look over and see two bibbed
customers cracking whole lobsters on a
Tuesday afternoon. "It's usually seasonal,
but we do twin lobsters," Vazzano's son,
Alex, says. A former professional hockey
player, Alex has only recently joined his
father in the family business, and Vazzano's brother, Chris, and various other
family members pop in and out to lend
a hand.
Among the specialties are the shrimp
onkey (sautéed shrimp with capers,
tomatoes, lemon white wine and toast
points for $11.95) and Sicilian calamari.
The menu is admittedly large, with
steaks, a large pasta list, grinders and, of
course, pizza (which makes up about 40
percent of sales). The staff crossutilizes many of the ingredients across
the board. Much is made in house, and
"we use all local products. We buy local.
We get deliveries every day. We don't
have a lot of room, so we use everything."
The original location easily goes through
a thousand pounds of chicken every
14 days. Everything is made to order.

When formulating Vazzy's menu,
Vazzano and his team looked for "fresh
ingredients, local ingredients (and) we
were looking to incorporate some of
our favorite things that we liked to eat
at other places in New York or Boston
-- big restaurant hubs -- and bring
them back local. The meatball salad that
we have on special a lot is a big seller, as
is the Sicilian calamari. We incorporate
other ideas and do them the way we like
to do them."
Aside from the restaurant, Vazzano
offers several items for sale commercially,
including his "Sunday gravy" and pizza
dough. Meatballs? They can't keep them
in.
Vazzy's is also famous for its Hot Oil
Pizza with sausage ($16.95 for a large),
but the Salt Water Pie is also a standout
with lobster, shrimp, scallops, calamari,
olive oil, basil and Parmesan cheese
($26.95 for a large).
The Banana Chantilly is their signature dessert and is made specifically for
Vazzy's (they sell 40 to 50 a week during
the holidays). Cannoli filling is made inhouse and they rotate four cheesecakes.
"We don't have a big selection (of desserts), but what we do have, (customers)
come in for," Vazzano says. His motto?
If you're going to offer it, do it right.
"If you look at the menu, everything
on there is named after a family member
or friend," Vazzano says. "That's the way
we want our business."
Dine-in accounts for 70 percent of
sales, with carryout at 20 percent. Liquor,
beer and wine comprise an even 33 percent each of the company's bar sales.
"We do a lot of pizzas for schools,"
Vazzano says. "We do almost 600 pizzas
a week for private schools. It's just something we've done since day one. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays we were
slower during the week so we started
doing wholesale pizzas for the schools
and it worked out pretty well."
They've added gluten-free pastas and
pizzas to their menu, cooking the pizza
in pans rather than directly on the stone
of their deck oven. "We use a yucca

dough that's local and made in Danbury,
Connecticut," Vazzano says.
When asked what sets him apart

from his competition, Vazzano easily
says it's his company's commitment to
the region.
"We're big in the community," he
says. "I don't want to toot my own horn,
but I have nine places now." They're not
all named Vazzy's to avoid saturating the
market, and the family owns a 400-seat
banquet hall, and one of the oldest bars
in the country, The Windmill, where
they sell pizza and more than 400
pounds of hot dogs a week.
"We do a lot of catering, and we have
a pizza truck also that we go to people's
houses and events with," Vazzano says.
After nearly a quarter of a century in
the business, Vazzano hasn't had to do a
lot of marketing aside from some social
media.
"I have my own foundation now," he
says. "We raise quite a bit of money. We
have a food drive and a toy drive, and
we give it right back to the community.
We've raised over half a million dollars since we've been doing this. It's all
grassroots with the local police and fire
departments. That's who we're hooked
up with. We do all our fundraising with
them, and the military."
Even Vazzy's merchandise -- with a
t-shirt cheekily prodding Americans to
"legalize marinara" - seem to fly out the
door. "We sell them and all the money
goes to charity," Vazzano says.
Vazzano is looking to open a farmto-table concept in the future, perhaps
with a microbrewery, filling a niche
he says is lacking in his area. Still, he
stresses that owning a restaurant -- or in
his case, multiple restaurants -- should
be more than the 9-to-5 grind.
"It's never been about the job," Vazzano says. ""It's fun. That's what I've
been trying to stress to my two sons." n
MANDY WOLF DETWILER is managing

editor at Pizza Today.

J U N E 2 0 1 7 / P I Z Z AT O D AY. C O M / 5 9


http://www.PIZZATODAY.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pizza Today - June 2017

Pizza Today - June 2017
Commentary
Contents
Contributors
Expo Spotlight
Interact
Conversation
Man on the Street
Respecting the Craft
On Tap
Destinations
Knead to Know
Turn Down the Sound
Pizza Style Guide
Adding Sustainable Food
Caprese Across the Menu
Employee Reviews
Increasing Check Averages
Pizza Today on the Road: Harry’s Bishops Corner, West Hartford, CT
Pizza Today on the Road: The Original Vazzy’s, Bridgeport, CT
Product Showcase
Pizza Today Yellow Pages
The Marketplace
Reader’s Resource
Trending Recipe
Pizza Today - June 2017 - CT1
Pizza Today - June 2017 - CT2
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Pizza Today - June 2017
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Cover2
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Commentary
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 4
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 5
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Contents
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 7
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 8
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 9
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Contributors
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 11
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Expo Spotlight
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 13
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Interact
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 15
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Conversation
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 17
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Man on the Street
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 19
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Respecting the Craft
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 21
Pizza Today - June 2017 - On Tap
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 23
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Destinations
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 25
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Knead to Know
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 27
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 28
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 29
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Turn Down the Sound
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 31
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 32
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 33
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Pizza Style Guide
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 35
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 36
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 37
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Adding Sustainable Food
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 39
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 40
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 41
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Caprese Across the Menu
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 43
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Employee Reviews
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 45
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 46
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 47
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Increasing Check Averages
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 49
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 50
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 51
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Pizza Today on the Road: Harry’s Bishops Corner, West Hartford, CT
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 53
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 54
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 55
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 56
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 57
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 58
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 59
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Pizza Today on the Road: The Original Vazzy’s, Bridgeport, CT
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Product Showcase
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 62
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 63
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Pizza Today Yellow Pages
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 65
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 66
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 67
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 68
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 69
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 70
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 71
Pizza Today - June 2017 - The Marketplace
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 73
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 74
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 75
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 76
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 77
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 78
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 79
Pizza Today - June 2017 - 80
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Reader’s Resource
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Trending Recipe
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Cover3
Pizza Today - June 2017 - Cover4
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