This week’s edition of The Local Flavor characteristics Jack Djonbali of Jack’s Brick Oven Pizzeria. Born and raised in the coronary heart of the Mediterranean, Jack came in excess of to the United States to reside with his loved ones in New York and get an training. Following graduating substantial faculty in Brooklyn, he commenced functioning for his brother’s enterprises in Manhattan.
With plenty of knowledge below his belt, he moved to Norwich, Connecticut and opened his initially cafe, La Stella Pizzeria. Acquiring accomplishment, his upcoming place would give him the flexibility to delve into his Mediterranean roots and provide his clients a plethora of delicacies. Come 2010, Jack’s Brick Oven Pizzeria was open to the community, and Jack himself has not seemed back again.
Blaine: To start off factors off, exactly where did you grow up?
Jack: I was born in Montenegro. It was excellent, various from listed here. My mother and father would cook major meals for spouse and children gatherings. I left the state when I was fifteen decades aged in 94’-95’. I experienced family members in New York, brothers and sisters. I came listed here to get an schooling. I started high university in New York and graduated in Brooklyn.
The full household, we’re big into cooking. My brother owns 5 places to eat in Manhattan. He’s been in Manhattan for the earlier 30 a long time. Which is in which I started off cooking and remaining included in the cafe enterprise.
I moved to Connecticut in ’98 and started out doing work in a local restaurant. I opened La Stella Pizzeria in 2001. I was 24 several years aged again then. I was there for about 9 years just before I opened Jack’s Brick Oven in 2010. This calendar year I’ll be opening a liquor keep, too. It’s gonna be identified as West 82 Wine and Liquor.
Blaine: What created you want to do a pizzeria?
Jack: For Jack’s Brick Oven, I went for a complete Mediterranean menu. Pizzas, salads, steaks, other dishes. We experienced a large ample kitchen area to increase the menu, as opposed to La Stella. I wanted to convey my expertise and qualifications to the menu.
Blaine: Is your restaurant just Italian cuisine or is there inspiration from other locations in the Mediterranean?
Jack: There are other influences, yes. We provide gyros, for case in point. They’re not Italian delicacies. We make food to make all our buyers joyful. If you do not like pizzas, we want to have other possibilities for you. We have several specials that rotate, like chicken teriyaki. We want to make confident there is a little something for everyone. It is a good deal of Italian food items, but the menu as a entire is much more Mediterranean, and far more assorted.
Blaine: What can you convey to me about the Vitello alla Francese?
Jack: It is a standard Italian dish. We call it Scallopini. It’s a veal cut that’s tenderized, pan-seared (never fried) and cook dinner it in butter, lemon juice and wine with new herbs and served more than pasta.
Blaine: How about the Jack’s Brick Oven Pasta?
Jack: It’s a bowtie pasta. We use the best prosciutto. It comes with peas, garlic, olive oil, a white wine sauce and Pecorino cheese. It arrives with soup on the side, or a salad. I named it soon after the restaurant for the reason that it is my have recipe. I like to use prosciutto. It gives a definitely wonderful taste to the dish. It’s my specialty.
Blaine: A further dish that trapped out to me was the Tortellini Zanfina.
Jack: Which is named right after my daughter. I always told her, when I opened my next cafe, I would name a dish right after her. The tortellini are stuffed with ricotta cheese. It’s a high-quality pasta. We make the sauce on the aspect, a pink sauce. It has mushroom, eco-friendly peas. The flavors function really effectively jointly.
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Blaine: What model are the pizzas you serve?
Jack: I labored in Italian restaurants all my life. Pizzas are a specialty. Each and every evening, we make the dough. It rises and is ready for the future day. We hand-toss every single pizza. No frozen dough. We make the sauce each and every day in the morning, with basil, garlic, other spices. We basically just won the 2021 award for very best pizza in Norwich. They’re cooked in our brick oven.
Blaine: What manufactured you want to shift from New York to Connecticut to open up up a restaurant?
Jack: I have constantly been a meals male, beginning with working with my brother in New York. He was in the food enterprise very long right before I came to the U.S. It grew to become my inspiration. I appreciate foodstuff and I’m a folks particular person. I adore to chat with my clients and make them satisfied, and serving them superior foodstuff is what can make us both of those satisfied.
Price ranges ended up a large amount a lot more affordable in this article than in New York, as perfectly. Connecticut is a great condition. They chat about the taxes and all that but it’s a actually attractive point out. I reside in Norwich and people today have been so supportive. They served us as a result of COVID, my regulars backed us up. It was a challenging time and we produced it by means of because of them. We’re thoroughly open, we rehired everybody. We’re open and operating at 100%. My chefs and staff members give it their all. They’re superb.
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Blaine: What challenges did the pandemic deliver?
Jack: It was a nightmare. We did not know how extensive it would final or which course we would finish up likely. We had to make it by means of but it wasn’t uncomplicated. There was a light-weight at the stop of the tunnel, luckily. I don’t treatment what small business you do for a dwelling or what field of operate you ended up in. It was tough for every person.
Blaine: What changes did you have to make likely as a result of the pandemic?
Jack: When the Governor decided to near the cafe that week, we experienced a conference. We experienced to shut down the eating room we could only do choose-up and deliveries. We had to let our wait workers go. It felt dreadful. We reduce our enterprise hours as properly, slash them in 50 percent. It was not a great scenario. But we experienced to survive. Fortuitously, we manufactured it out to the other aspect. We’re entirely open up again.
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Blaine: What would you like to say to your patrons who supported you by he pandemic?
Jack: I simply cannot thank them ample, definitely. They were being right here for us. They created us pleased. Choosing up meals, buying delivery, leaving extra ideas. They arrived back normally and purchased reward cards. I definitely can’t thank them plenty of for their assist. They came in and would donate masks and other merchandise as effectively. For an more mature woman, 85 years aged, who built masks for us, it was remarkable. That demonstrates support, that reveals adore, that demonstrates treatment for the community.
Blaine: Is there nearly anything else you want audience to know about?
Jack: We have outside seating, a entire bar, and are seating at whole ability. Masks are not expected but you are free to don just one if you want. We’re at 100%.