SOUTHINGTON — A winner of Food Network’s “Chopped” and a local restaurateur are teaming up to open an eatery in the former Zingarella’s Pizzeria location in Plantsville.
Nick LaRosa, a Phoenix-based chef and a “Chopped” grand prize winner in 2019, and his cousin Frank LaRosa, owner of Alliant Restaurant Brokers and a Southington resident, hope to open NOTO Americano this fall at 83 W. Main St.
The cousins’ family is from Noto, Sicily.
“Noto Americano will be a modern in approach on classic dishes but Sicilian in spirit,” Frank LaRosa said.
Both have spent their lives in the restaurant industry. With Nick LaRosa in Arizona, the chance for opening a restaurant together didn’t arise until Frank LaRosa told his cousin about the Zingarella’s location. Nick LaRosa moved his family back to Connecticut.
“It’s exciting to be able to come back together in our hometown and be able to open this together,” Frank LaRosa said.
Frank LaRosa opened Quinn’s Tavern at 28 W. Main St. in the late 1990’s. He’s also been a previous partner or owner in other local restaurants such as The Fire Place and Brixx.
Zingarella’s closed in February.Improvements for Plantsville
The corner location, recent investment and upcoming improvements to downtown Plantsville drew the LaRosas to the Zingarella location.
Area property owners have been renovating aging buildings and bringing new businesses. Frank LaRosa is also anticipating a major state and town project that’ll improve the Plantsville streetscape.
“There’s going to be a whole renaissance project starting down there after the first of the year,” he said. “I think it’s going to bring it back down there, it’s going to be a busy area.”
Dean Michanczyk, owner of Dean’s Stove and Spa at 120 W. Main St. has been improving several of Plantsville downtown’s buildings. He owns property on both sides of West Main Street surrounding the Zingarella’s location.
Michanczyk is also looking forward to the planned renaissance project. He’s glad to see someone taking over a vacant restaurant. Earlier this summer, he had Craft Kitchen move into the former Tavern 42 building and said they’ve done extraordinarily well there.
“The parking lot is packed all day,” Michanczyk said. “(Owner Mike Truss) has got quite a following.” Decor changes
Frank LaRosa expects to open NOTO Americano in late fall. While the restaurant won’t require any major layout changes, he wants to change the aesthetics.
“It’s a lot of decor change. The layout is pretty much the same, but it’s a lot of decor, paint, new trim, we’ve got new furniture coming in,” Frank LaRosa said. “It’ll have a different look.”