An Italian restaurant in downtown Shelton will be changing its name and setting up a banquet facility as well.
Verace Pizzeria, Tavern and Italian Eatery at 100 Center St. will change its name to Caloroso in early December.
The name change is due to a conflict with a Long Island restaurant with the same name. The Islip, N.Y. establishment pursued legal action to protect its trademark, and an out-of-court settlement that involves the Shelton Verace altering its name was reached a few months ago.
Mathew Calandro, co-owner of the Shelton Verace with his wife Kelly, appeared before the city Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) on Wednesday night to get permission for new signs due to the name change.
The new name is a combination of his last name and his wife’s maiden name (Rosso), according to Calandro. The word “caloroso” also means warm, warm-hearted, or hearty in Italian, he said.
Serve up to 75 at banquets
Calandro also sought P&Z permission to create a banquet facility in the basement of the building. The basement facility would include two seating areas for about 75 people in total, plus a bar.
Food would be prepared in the upstairs kitchen for banquet events. There are existing restrooms in the basement.
The banquet facility would be used for private functions only, and not for overflow dining patrons, Calandro said. This would include charity and school fund-raisers and more formal gatherings.
“This gives us the flexibility” to host such events while also keeping the public dining areas open on the ground-floor, he told the P&Z.
Calandro said it would enable the restaurant to continue hosting events to support local nonprofits. “This will give us the opportunity to give back to the community,” he said.
Parking, handicapped access
P&Z members asked questions about handicapped access to the basement and available parking, with the increased seating capacity. There are only stairs to the lower level, but Calandro said this is not unusual for eating establishments.
Calandro said Verace has 40 off-street parking spots. He noted this is more than most restaurants and drinking establishments in the vicinity, some of which have no off-street parking.
Concerns were raised about crowded parking on Center Street at night, particularly on Thursdays to Saturdays, but Calandro said he will sometimes valet park cars himself to help patrons. Vehicles also are “stacked” in the Verace lot with staff assistance, he said.
He might look at setting up a more formal valet system down the line, Calandro said. “Customers aren’t going to come if they can’t park,” he said.
The P&Z unanimously approved the new banquet facility and signage.
Will celebrate third anniversary
Calandro is a lifelong Shelton resident and 1993 St. Joseph High School graduate. His restaurant will celebrate its third anniversary in February, having opened in 2012.
He noted the establishment has been evolving since then. It had a deli at first, which has been replaced with a full bar/lounge area. It now offers outdoor dining areas.
“We’re not the same restaurant anymore,” he said. “We’ve re-invented ourselves to roll with the punches and to keep up with what’s going on down here [downtown].”
According to a sign on Verace’s front door, while the restaurant’s name will change, “the ownership, staff and mission remain the name: Treat and serve our patrons like family, provide hearty portions using on the best ingredients for a modest price, and support our community.”