By Giuliana Grossi
In Italian, the word sfizio translates to “on a whim,” or something that you do for fun.
Brothers Marco and Claudio Lubrano had that in mind when they opened Sfizio Pizza in the former Renna’s space on Route 206. They wanted Sfizio to be a place families could go, not only to indulge in various pizzas, sandwiches and salads but also to take a break from the daily grind and enjoy themselves.
Their involvement in the food business did not happen on a whim, though. Marco, who lives in Bordentown, is a former sales representative for a food distributor that delivered to Renna’s Restaurant, owned by Domenico Renna, with whom he became friends. Before the Lubrano’s opened Sfizio Pizza, the building had been vacant for a year and half after Renna’s had shut down. Marco knew the building from doing business with Renna, and he and Claudio seized the opportunity to open up a gourmet pizzeria. Renna is still involved with Marco and Claudio, as he is still the owner of the property.
Sfizio Pizza opened on April 2, and Lubranos invited their friends and family to the restaurant to try the food and celebrate before opening to the public that afternoon. Their first full day of business was the April 3. “I really have to thank the community,” Marco said. “As of now, I haven’t done any advertising. The only place I’ve advertised at was Facebook and I’m getting a great response.”
Family and friends are an important support system to have, Marco said. His daughters Sabrina, 13, and Julia, 10, have helped in the taste testing process. “My kids love chicken fingers,” he said. You can find those on menu along with Sabrina’s favorite onion rings under the “whims,” or appetizers, section. Julia’s favorite dish on the menu is the bruschetta pizza. Anita, his wife, loves the salads, particularly the gorgonzola salad and the apple goat cheese salad. Marco enjoys the buffalo chicken pizza and the Brooklyn margherita.
All of Sfizio’s hand tossed gourmet pizzas, including the meat lover, chicken pesto, and others can be made to order depending on how many people will be served. A personal pizza comes with four slices, a small pizza provides six slices and a large pizza comes with eight slices.
Sfizio offers more than just pizza, though. The restaurant also provides square pan-cooked pizzas, salads, paninis, calzones, Italian dishes, pasta, hoagies, wings, steaks, burgers and desserts. Marco, though, is most excited to offer flatbreads. “The flatbreads are making a big hit…they aren’t on every menu and people are loving them,” Marco said. One particular favorite is the Italian flatbread which has arugula, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and balsamic glaze. “I have this thing for balsamic glaze lately,” Marco said.
Sfizio’s interior is spacious and inviting with warm brick colors and room for up to nine parties of diners. The restaurant also offers takeout. The counter is wide and open, displaying a variety of colorful gourmet pizzas. And although the restaurant is located in Bordentown, its heart is in Naples, Italy, where pizza was born.
The Lubranos are originally from Monte di Procida, a small town outside of Naples. Marco moved to the United States in 1990 when he was just 16 years old. Claudio, a Hamilton resident, left Italy years later, and now their parents, Giovani and Maria, live in Hamilton well and have been a big help in getting Sfizio Pizza up and running.
Sfizio is not Marco’s first foray into owning and operating a restaurant. In the ’90s, he owned a restaurant called Chiro’s on Business Route 1/Brunswick Pike. Marco and Claudio said that in central Jersey, it doesn’t seem to matter what town you live in—wherever you go, you get the welcoming feeling of each close-knit community.
The chain of events that led them to find their niche on Route 206 involves more than hard work; it involves connecting with others, and a close community that they thrived on in Italy and in Bordentown, they said. “Sfizio is meant to be something fun,” Marco said. “It’s a strong urge to do something fun.”
Sfizio Pizza is located at 1032 Route 206, Bordentown. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Phone: (609) 291-0303. On the web: sfiziopizza.net.