MONROE, CT — Carl Anthony Trattoria, a popular restaurant at Clock Tower Square, closed at the end of 2022. But Sam DeVellis, who bought the business in 1998 and transformed it from a pizza place to a fine restaurant with Italian infused cuisine, vows to reopen it later this year.
During an interview at the Starbucks on Main Street one recent Saturday morning, the owner/chef told The Sun he cannot divulge where the new location will be, but expects to make an announcement early this year.
“It’s not goodbye. It’s we’ll see you soon,” DeVellis said. “And I want to thank everybody for their continued support. I truly cherish the relationships and friendships I made over the years and look forward to continuing this.”
“I experienced people’s whole lives,” he said. “I catered their children’s baptisms, birthdays and weddings, and I can’t tell you how many New Year’s Eves.”
DeVellis established the Carl Anthony Restaurant Group years ago, which also includes Gioves Pizza Kitchen, Carl Anthony Catering, Carl Anthony Pizza Truck and Bill’s Drive-In — which are all still open.
He recently announced a new partnership with Market Hospitality Group, which owns 10 restaurant locations.
Led by restaurateur Eli Hawli, Market Hospitality Group began with Market Place Kitchen & Bar in Danbury in 2011, before adding Market Place Tavern and Mercato Italian Kitchen & Bar locations throughout Connecticut.
The restaurant group now owns Bill’s Drive-in and Key Largo Fisheries in Key Largo, Fla.
Two new locations are scheduled to open in 2023, including Mercato Italian Kitchen at The Shoppes at Farmington Valley in Canton, and a second location at The Fountain Square in Shelton.
DeVellis said he is excited about his partnership with Market Hospitality Group, where he is working with executive corporate chefs to create menus for its restaurants.
“They bring a level of service I benefit from and, with my culinary background, it’s almost like a dream team,” he said. “We’re able to deliver a level of service and food that’s unique to us.”
‘School of hard knocks’
DeVellis, grew up in Bridgeport, and graduated from Notre Dame Fairfield High School. He went on to enroll at Sacred Heart University, but never went to culinary school.
“I went to the school of hard knocks,” he said with a smile. “I was self taught.”
As a teenager, his first job was at John’s Pizza on Madison Avenue in Bridgeport. “I learned to make pizza at that job,” DeVellis recalled.
When he was still a teenager, DeVellis prepared meals in the kitchen at Tavern On Main in Bridgeport.
DeVellis learned basic cooking techniques, but that didn’t satisfy his need for creativity. DeVellis said there was a movement with Food Network and he picked up any morsel of knowledge he could.
“I always liked to eat. In my early 20s, when I started this restaurant, it’s where my culinary interest really bloomed,” he said of Carl Anthony’s, where he could create his own menu.
“I just wanted to make people happy and serve some really good food, that’s a little unique, with a fearlessness to be different,” DeVellis said. “I wanted to have fun and do something different that no one in this area was doing.”
DeVellis said his culinary career evolved into ownership of Carl Anthony’s, his catering business, pizza truck, Gioves and Bill’s Drive-In.
Now, DeVellis said he and Market Hospitality Group are collaborating on all fronts. For example, diners will see Carl Anthony’s balsamic calamari on Mercato Italian Kitchen menus.
“Visit us at Market Place and Mercato,” he said. “You won’t be disappointed.”
DeVellis said he enjoys working with Eli Hawli and Market Hospitality Group.
“I’m an adrenaline junkie, so I like the controlled chaos,” he said of working in restaurant kitchens. “Eli, we’re like-minded. It’s very cool to work with people who have similar life goals in the business.”