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Tony D's expands into new space, plans opening of homemade pasta shop

New London — With the shop next door poised to close at the beginning of the year, Anthony D’Angelo was already thinking about what an expansion of his popular Italian restaurant, Tony D’s, might look like.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the downtown eatery at the corner of Huntington and Broad streets, opened in 1999 by his now semi-retired father Tony D’Angelo, was forced into survival mode. D’Angelo, 33, who now runs the restaurant and serves as head chef, began creating takeout family-style meals to help the business stay afloat. He was also thinking about the future.

The restaurant has a robust catering business, too, but D’Angelo said takeout food is something the restaurant was forced into and a departure from what it is already well-known for, which is serving customers fresh homemade meals in a cozy atmosphere.

“Our thing is fine dining,” D’Angelo said in a recent interview.

Flexibility, D’Angelo said, is the key to survival in the restaurant business. It’s how the idea for Tony D’s Homemade Pasta Shop, expected to open in October, came about.

“We should just do pasta,” D’Angelo said, thinking back to when he first came up with the idea. “We’re already making fresh pasta for the restaurant. This is a natural extension. And we should have a to-go store, a little market.”

Work began almost immediately with the blessing of building owner Mark Fracas, whose family ran California Fruit in the building for decades. Over the past several months, the rundown storefront next door was transformed with a brick facade and a new entrance. Finishing touches are underway inside, with red cedar countertops atop brick, coolers lining the wall and new floor among a host of other renovations.

What customers can expect is a shop open five days a week with multiple varieties of fresh pasta, premium olive oils, salad dressings and quarts of different sauces. D’Angelo said he also envisions fresh raviolis, desserts and perhaps even some dried packaged pasta in the future.

“We’ll have to feel it out, open up, find out what the people want and go with it,” D’Angelo said.

He expects most of the food sold will be for people to take home and cook themselves and foresees special orders with larger servings for families looking to serve crowds around the holidays.

At the very least, D’Angelo said the expansion has served to beautify a section of the building that was in dire need of a facelift.

“We’re making the building look beautiful. I think it’s good for the community. They can come in, and they know they’re getting a premium product,” D’Angelo said.

After the shop opens, D’Angelo said passersby should not be surprised to find the interior lit up with someone visible inside cutting ravioli, a pleasant addition to the Huntington Street landscape.

Learn more about Tony D's at www.tonydsnl.com or on Facebook.

G.smith@theday.com

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