Rocco Carbone, 49, has fond memories of cooking Sunday dinners – often ragu – with his family while growing up in Bari, a city in the Puglia region of Italy until he was 10.
He learned to cook from his parents Angela and Michael Carbone and has cooked often for his three kids.
That family and kid-friendly setting is something the Glastonbury resident wants to emulate in his first Italian restaurant, Trattoria Il Trullo. The new Italian place, which he co-owns with his wife, Stacey Rosenburg, opened in Avon last Friday.
“We wanted to be warm and welcoming and have families come here to eat like I grew up eating, with a family dinner together,” Carbone said.
The name itself is rooted in family and the home. In Italy, trattorias are the smaller family-run restaurants. Carbone’s Riverdale Farms Shopping Center restaurant is modeled after that style with brick walls, some booths and a red accent colors to make the room brighter. Paintings of trulli – a style of houses Carbone was drawn to on a visit to Arborio Bello, Italy – hang on the walls.
Frank Sinatra and Italian music play for added ambiance. Electronic doors open to outdoor seating and there’s a ramp to make the building more handicap-accessible.
The menu is a tour of Italian cuisine, representing different regions of Carbone’s home country. Orecchiette alla barese is one of a few dishes with influences from Carbone’s region, made of sautéed sweet Italian sausage, broccoli, rabe white wine, red chili, pepper, garlic and pecorino.
Deep River bakery Fabled makes bread exclusively for Trattoria Il Trullo that is used in the fresh-tasting bruschetta and served as table bread. The tomatoes – and all of the restaurant’s produce – comes from Connecticut producers. The combination of aged balsamic vinaigrette, garlic, olive oil and basil gives the appetizer the right blend of salty and sweet. One plate of bruschetta comes with three sizable pieces. The restaurant makes its own focaccia and panini breads every day.
Many restaurants have chicken parmesan, on the menu, but Trattoria Il Trullo’s recipe stands out because of the lemon that keeps the chicken moist and slightly tangy. With two pieces of chicken over linguini served at lunchtime, there’s more than enough to take home for a second meal. You can also ask for gluten free pasta in any signature pasta dish.
Trattoria also has bar featuring mostly Italian and Californian wines, limoncello and martini cocktails. The restaurant will soon host happy hours.
Dessert ranges from lemon sorbet in a lemon rind to cannolis and tiramisu.
The kids’ menu has a mix of standard and Italian selections, including spaghetti and meatballs, pasta and butter, chicken fingers, and chicken alfredo with broccoli.
If you see chef Simone Fioretti around the restaurant, he’ll be happy to chat with you. He first became a sous chef in Italy and previously opened three restaurants in Boston.
“I love cooking. Every day I learn something new,” Fioretti, who grew up in Rome, said. “I will continue cooking every day for the rest of my life.”
Affordability was a priority for Carbone in pricing the menu.
“I definitely took pricing into consideration for economy,” Carbone said. “It’s a good quality product and price so people could afford to be here with families.”
Lunch prices range from $8.95 to $14.95 for appetizers, $5.95 to $8.95 for soups and salads, $11.95 to $14.95 for pasta dishes and $9.95 to $11.95 for paninis.
Prices go up slightly for dinner, ranging from $8.95 to $12.95 for appetizers, $15.95 to $17.95, $5.95 to $9.95 for most pasta dishes, market price for risotto and $17.95 to $27.95 for entrées.
Carbone has long worked in independently-owned restaurants – mostly places with Italian cuisine – predominantly in Chicago. With a passion for Italian “food and service," Carbone, who has extensive experience as a line cook and sous chef, decided to open his own place.
“It’s something I always wanted to do, to own my own restaurant, to put my food and ideas out into a theory as opposed to always dreaming about it,” Carbone said.
Reservations for the 152 Simsbury Rd. restaurant can be made via phone at 860-676-0188 and online. More information is available on the restaurant’s website (www.trattoriailtrullo.com).
Trattoria Il Trullo is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch Mondays to Fridays, 4 to 10 p.m. for dinner on Monday to Thursdays, and 4 to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays for dinner.