Downtown Shelton pizzeria to expand building

Antonio’s plans to expand its current building into the outdoor front porch area at the Italian eatery on Bridgeport Avenue.

The new interior space would enable the kitchen to be enlarged and create a nicer entrance, restaurant owner Antonio Xhokola told the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z).

Antonio’s Italian Style Pizza moved to its current leased location at 12-A Bridgeport Avenue in August 2014. It previously had operated at another rented downtown location, just down the road on Center Street, for 13 years.

Shorter waiting time

By expanding the enclosed space and kitchen, Antonio’s should be able to shorten the waiting time during its busiest times, such as Friday nights, Xhokola said. “We’ll be able to serve people faster,” he said.

He said the outdoor porch doesn’t serve a functional purpose and more space is needed in the kitchen, including for storage.

Xhokola also said the current main entrance opens directly from the porch to the dining area, and this allows cold air to get inside. The new, enclosed area should include a vestibule, with a double set of doors, to prevent that problem.

The structure’s new front likely will have a stone facade, like the current one.

The P&Z unanimously approved the plans for Antonio’s. Xhokola said he expects to complete the work this summer.

Business first opened in 2001

Xhokola and his wife, Eda, own and operate the pizzeria and eatery. They opened it in 2001, sold it a few years later, and then purchased it back in 2010.

The new location had led to a definite increase in business, with more parking space and a larger kitchen than the old site, said Xhokola, who was born in Albania and grew up in Italy.