By Renato & Alicia Ghio
Tucked into a seemingly average strip-mall on Lake Avenue Extension in Danbury sits Stanziato’s Wood Fired Pizza. But this is not your average corner pizza place.
As soon as you walk in the door, the sight of a wood-fired pizza hearth and the comforting scent of burning wood greet you. The day’s special is written on a chalkboard, along with what craft beers are on tap that day. Art by local artists adorns the walls in the main dining area. Most nights there’s a wait, but no one seems to mind.
Beyond the warm and inviting atmosphere, it’s really all about the food. Chef owner Matt Stanczak, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, is passionate about quality, relying on local, fresh ingredients. He sources from many local farms and there is even a small vegetable garden behind the restaurant. As you’d expect, the menu reflects what’s seasonally available.
“I see it as any good chef; that’s how they cook. You cook with the seasons, you try to get as local as you can, it’s how it should be. It’s like our duty as chefs to cook this way,” said Stanczak. “If you want to get the most out of your product, you’re using local and what’s available. It’s always the freshest and it tastes the best. That’s what it’s all about.”
Stanziato’s specializes in 12-inch, individually sized artisanal pizzas, which usually feed one to two people depending on your appetite. Everything is made in-house, from scratch. Made with imported Italian flour that is not enriched, bleached or bromated, the pizza dough is fermented for three days, giving it a complex flavor as well as a light, airy texture that is easier to digest.
After sitting down with Stanczak, it was easy to see that he is a down-to-earth person who loves what he’s doing. “I just wanted to keep it simple and do awesome salads and pizza, and that’s what we do,” he said. “I live and breathe this business.”
His passion hasn’t gone unnoticed by diners. Stanziato’s was voted the number one restaurant in Danbury on the review site Yelp and was rated among the top 100 pizzerias in the United States by a national food magazine.
Coming this month there will be more of Stanziato’s to love, as Stanczak is expanding next door to create a bar area featuring a rotating array of craft beers. The new space, done by Urban Wood & Steel, features reclaimed wood and industrial design elements, with items such as recycled piping handrails and textured walls made from wood scraps. The expanded space also will have a communal table area available for private parties and special events.
When asked about any secrets to his success so far, he replied, “I just think simple, local, fresh and to support the community in anything you do – food, wood, art, whatever.
Stanziato’s is located at 35 Lake Avenue Extension in Danbury, CT. It is open Monday through Saturday and closed Sundays. For more information, visit www.stanziatos.com or call 203-885-1057.