BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Working for a food distribution company, Freddy Tomaj often passed the burgeoning little Fairfield Avenue strip of shops and restaurants known as Bijou Square.
Having worked at pizzerias through high school and college, he took an interest in Two Boots, the New Orleans/Italian eatery that specialized in unusual pies.
When the Newtown resident noticed that establishment abruptly shuttered last March, he started to pine for the old days making pizzas.
“The itch came back — and the opportunity came up,” said Tomaj.
Welcome to Milano Wine Bar & Pizzeria, his family-friendly restaurant that staged its grand opening Tuesday.
“I’ve already been here a couple of times,” said Mayor Joe Ganim, noting the restaurant’s soft opening in August. “The food is phenomenal.”
The smell of freshly baked pizzas wafted through the long bar and dining room, as Tomaj explained the restaurant he now runs with help from his brother Peter Tomaj, niece Ann Marie Tomaj and nephew Nick Gjuraj.
“I wanted something family oriented and something unique,” said Tomaj, who grew up in Stamford.
He’s definitely succeeded on the second score: The first pizza on the menu is his signature Peaces and Bacon pie, featuring caramelized peaches and onions, gorgonzola, white sauce and mozzarella.
There’s a chicken and ranch pizza, a Dollar Menu Pie with hamburgers, pickles and fries, and a Sunday Dinner Pie, with pork shoulder, meatballs, pepperoni and a port marinara sauce.
In the cooler months, patrons can choose from pies topped with mashed potatoes or butternut squash, while spring is sprung when the pizza chefs highlight a sweet and tangy strawberry pizza.
The menu features mostly Italian fare, including chicken Marsala, baked gnocchi Bolognese and salmon picatta. But there are also several salads, a ‘messy burger’ with pulled pork, bacon, provolone and cole slaw, French dip panini and a veggie wrap.
The restaurant uses both Grub Hub and Uber Eats and offers a full catering menu. The pizza will also be the official pie of the Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team, so you can grab a slice at the ballpark this summer.
Tomaj’s father, Luz Tomaj, who hails from the Czech Republic, said he is happy to see his son become a success in America.
“My son is working hard,” he said. “What makes me to feel good is when I see my grandkids work here.”
Milano, located at 281 Fairfield Avenue, is open seven days a week with a happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. For more information, call 203-275-8850 or visit www.milanowinebarpizzeria.com .