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From left, cheese, pepperoni, asparagus and sweet onion, and margherita pizzas at Pizzeria Napoletana in Prospect

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.

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Shrimp fettuccini alfredo with clams at Pizzeria Napoletana in Prospect

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.”

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Pizzeria Napoletana in Prospect

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.

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Jim Kollcinaku, owner of Pizzeria Napoletana in Prospect

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.”


Pizzeria Napoletana

22 Union City Road, Prospect

203-758-0873, pizzerianapoletana.net

Hours: Thu.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. noon-7 p.m. Closed Mon.-Wed.

Wheelchair accessible

This article appeared in the May 2019 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale here. Got a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com, or contact us on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag.

The senior writer at Connecticut Magazine, Erik is the co-author of Penguin Random House’s “The Good Vices” and author of “Buzzed” and “Gillette Castle.” He is also an adjunct professor at WCSU’s MFA Program and Quinnipiac University