Matto brings casual Italian to Shelton

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — Restaurateur Dan Camporeale has wanted to get into a Shelton location for a while.

He got his wish late last year.

Matto Wine Bar, the Yonkers, N.Y., native’s latest restaurant venture, opened in early December at 389 Bridgeport Ave. in the former home of Barra Italian Street Kitchen. According to Camporeale, Matto was his chance to provide the city with a casual Italian dining experience in a city he sees as booming.

“Shelton is growing … people are coming here like crazy,” said Camporeale.

“Tens of thousands of people come into Shelton to work every day. They are coming — but are they staying, was my question. The answer is they are staying. They are staying here, eating here, drinking here. This city has become a hub, and I like the small market idea,” Camporeale said.

Matto, Italian for crazy, brings an “industrial chic” atmosphere with house music playing lightly over the venue. Patrons who walk in immediately see floor to ceiling walls made of handmade Italian glass tile, tufted leather booths, and a seven-foot, handblown glass chandelier.

"Matto is a well-thought mix of the old school and new school,” said Camporeale, adding that patrons can relax at the 44-foot Carrera marble bar that sits within towering industrial beams designed to enhance the steel, concrete and stucco interior.

Camporeale said, thankfully, the pizza oven was already in place. New lighting was installed, as well as what he called cool touches — the chandelier, red tile and Federico Fellini movies running in black and white on a big screen.

"We thought we would give the interior a sexier look, soften it up and make this a place where everyone would be comfortable coming in and enjoying themselves,” said Camporeale.

Tapas, from brussels sprouts to roasted beets, sauteed calamari to chicken Barese (breaded chicken, truffle cream sauce, crispy leeks), and artisan pizzas are among the offerings, with an eye toward Camporeale’s vision of “a little of this and a little of that.”

“Our concept of food is small plates,” he said. “We want people to come here three, four days a week and eat something different every day. You won’t have to commit to one thing. It’s pizza today, salad tomorrow, pasta next day. There’s a lot of different options in a fun atmosphere.”

Starting as a busboy some 25 years ago, Camporeale’s connection to the restaurant business has grown. He is now a successful owner, with his signature on Molto in Fairfield and Spiga in New Canaan.

“Today, I am the host, tomorrow I’m the busboy, the next day I’m tending bar. It keeps it fun. This is a great business to be in,” said Camporeale, who has been in ownership roles for the past 11 years.

“We are excited to be here in Shelton,” he added. “We really feel we are meeting a need, a desire in the community. There just wasn’t that casual Italian go-to restaurant. We want people to feel comfortable coming in here and enjoy a great meal and a good time.”

Matto will hold a grand opening on Jan. 24, offering specials during the event. The restaurant is open seven days a week. For more information on Matto, visit