This week’s edition of The Regional Taste functions Jack Djonbali of Jack’s Brick Oven Pizzeria. Born and lifted in the coronary heart of the Mediterranean, Jack arrived above to the United States to live with his family in New York and get an schooling. Right after graduating high university in Brooklyn, he started doing the job for his brother’s organizations in Manhattan.
With plenty of experience below his belt, he moved to Norwich, Connecticut and opened his initially cafe, La Stella Pizzeria. Finding results, his upcoming area would give him the freedom to delve into his Mediterranean roots and serve his customers a plethora of delicacies. Appear 2010, Jack’s Brick Oven Pizzeria was open to the public, and Jack himself has not appeared again.
Blaine: To commence issues off, exactly where did you grow up?
Jack: I was born in Montenegro. It was great, different from in this article. My parents would cook dinner big meals for relatives gatherings. I remaining the region when I was fifteen many years aged in 94’-95’. I experienced loved ones in New York, brothers and sisters. I came below to get an schooling. I commenced substantial college in New York and graduated in Brooklyn.
The whole household, we’re major into cooking. My brother owns 5 dining establishments in Manhattan. He’s been in Manhattan for the previous 30 decades. Which is wherever I started cooking and remaining included in the restaurant organization.
I moved to Connecticut in ’98 and began operating in a area restaurant. I opened La Stella Pizzeria in 2001. I was 24 years aged back again then. I was there for about 9 many years right before I opened Jack’s Brick Oven in 2010. This yr I’ll be opening a liquor retailer, also. It is gonna be known as West 82 Wine and Liquor.
Blaine: What made you want to do a pizzeria?
Jack: For Jack’s Brick Oven, I went for a whole Mediterranean menu. Pizzas, salads, steaks, other dishes. We had a significant plenty of kitchen area to grow the menu, in contrast to La Stella. I preferred to bring my expertise and background to the menu.
Blaine: Is your restaurant just Italian cuisine or is there inspiration from other regions in the Mediterranean?
Jack: There are other influences, yes. We serve gyros, for instance. They’re not Italian delicacies. We make food items to make all our clients happy. If you never like pizzas, we want to have other options for you. We have quite a few specials that rotate, like chicken teriyaki. We want to make confident there is anything for everybody. It is a lot of Italian meals, but the menu as a complete is more Mediterranean, and more diversified.
Blaine: What can you explain to me about the Vitello alla Francese?
Jack: It is a traditional Italian dish. We get in touch with it Scallopini. It is a veal reduce which is tenderized, pan-seared (in no way fried) and prepare dinner it in butter, lemon juice and wine with clean herbs and served in excess of pasta.
Blaine: How about the Jack’s Brick Oven Pasta?
Jack: It’s a bowtie pasta. We use the greatest prosciutto. It will come with peas, garlic, olive oil, a white wine sauce and Pecorino cheese. It comes with soup on the aspect, or a salad. I named it right after the cafe because it’s my have recipe. I like to use prosciutto. It provides a actually good taste to the dish. It’s my specialty.
Blaine: Another dish that stuck out to me was the Tortellini Zanfina.
Jack: That is named just after my daughter. I often instructed her, when I opened my up coming cafe, I would identify a dish following her. The tortellini are stuffed with ricotta cheese. It’s a fine pasta. We make the sauce on the side, a pink sauce. It has mushroom, green peas. The flavors do the job definitely very well alongside one another.
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Blaine: What design are the pizzas you provide?
Jack: I worked in Italian eating places all my daily life. Pizzas are a specialty. Every single night time, we make the dough. It rises and is completely ready for the upcoming working day. We hand-toss every pizza. No frozen dough. We make the sauce every single working day in the early morning, with basil, garlic, other spices. We really just won the 2021 award for ideal pizza in Norwich. They’re cooked in our brick oven.
Blaine: What created you want to move from New York to Connecticut to open up a restaurant?
Jack: I have generally been a foods dude, starting up with working with my brother in New York. He was in the food items enterprise lengthy just before I arrived to the U.S. It grew to become my inspiration. I really like food items and I’m a individuals human being. I appreciate to chat with my prospects and make them happy, and serving them superior food items is what can make us both happy.
Costs ended up a great deal additional cost-effective here than in New York, as nicely. Connecticut is a superior state. They talk about the taxes and all that but it is a definitely wonderful point out. I stay in Norwich and people today have been so supportive. They served us by means of COVID, my regulars backed us up. It was a demanding time and we designed it via since of them. We’re entirely open up, we rehired everybody. We’re open up and working at 100%. My cooks and staff give it their all. They’re wonderful.
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Blaine: What issues did the pandemic deliver?
Jack: It was a nightmare. We did not know how extensive it would past or which course we would conclude up going. We experienced to make it via but it wasn’t uncomplicated. There was a gentle at the conclusion of the tunnel, luckily. I never care what company you do for a living or what industry of perform you had been in. It was tough for absolutely everyone.
Blaine: What alterations did you have to make heading by the pandemic?
Jack: When the Governor made a decision to shut the cafe that 7 days, we experienced a assembly. We had to shut down the dining area we could only do select-up and deliveries. We had to allow our hold out personnel go. It felt terrible. We minimize our company hours as nicely, slice them in half. It was not a good scenario. But we had to endure. The good thing is, we created it out to the other side. We’re totally open up yet again.
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Blaine: What would you like to say to your patrons who supported you via he pandemic?
Jack: I can’t thank them ample, definitely. They were in this article for us. They manufactured us happy. Choosing up foods, purchasing shipping and delivery, leaving additional guidelines. They arrived back normally and acquired present cards. I seriously can not thank them adequate for their support. They came in and would donate masks and other merchandise as perfectly. For an older lady, 85 decades outdated, who built masks for us, it was exceptional. That demonstrates aid, that shows really like, that shows care for the local community.
Blaine: Is there something else you want audience to know about?
Jack: We have outdoor seating, a whole bar, and are seating at comprehensive capacity. Masks are not necessary but you’re no cost to wear one particular if you wish. We’re at 100%.