Drivers often speed straight through Prospect without ever stopping, laments Pizzeria Napoletana owner Jim Kollcinaku. “Everybody drives so fast and Prospect is a little town,” he says of the community just outside Waterbury.
Those driving straight through Prospect without stopping will also be speeding by some excellent pizza.
Located on a lonely stretch of Route 68, Pizzeria Napoletana offers thin-crust, wood-fired pizza worth pumping the brakes for in a casual sit-down restaurant. Led here by a reader suggestion, my wife and I enjoy a pie that is half-margherita and half-clams casino (clams, bacon, roasted red peppers, garlic). The thin, crisp, flavorful crust really stands out. Reached by phone after my visit, Kollcinaku says the wood-fired brick oven makes all the difference.
“The temperature and the flavor of the wood give the dough a better texture and nice crisp consistency,” he says. “Our grandmother used to cook in ovens like this 100 years ago.”
Kollcinaku opened the restaurant in 2012. A native of Albania, he grew up in a labor camp before moving to the U.S. more than 20 years ago. His love for America is evident. “As long as you work hard, the American dream is still alive,” he says. His motto when it comes to making pizza is, “Do it right or you don’t do it at all.”
He worked in construction for a time before learning the pizza-making trade in New York City in the late ’90s. Pizzeria Napoletana used to be open every day, but a few years ago Kollcinaku broke his elbow and ribs after falling off the roof of the pizzeria. Because he could no longer keep up with the physical demands of the job on a daily basis, the restaurant cut back to just Thursday through Sunday.
The business is family run. “It’s my sister, it’s my wife, it’s my son, it’s my nephew,” says Kollcinaku, whose parents own the building.
“I say, if you take the pizza out and you don’t want to eat it yourself, don’t even bring it out, toss it right in an oven,” he says. “You know that customer, he pays money. He respects you and he trusts you to cook for him, to be clean, to be honest, to make good food.”
22 Union City Road, Prospect
Hours: Thu.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. noon-7 p.m. Closed Mon.-Wed.