EAST HARTFORD — A new restaurant on Roberts Street, inspired by a neighborhood in lower Manhattan, officially opened Tuesday.
Nolita Ristorante, located at the East Hartford Ramada Inn, is the vision of partner Vishal Sharma and his partners and cousins, Harpreet Singh and Varinder Singh, from West Hartford.
Sharma, who grew up in East Hartford and has lived in New York, said the concept for the restaurant came to him while walking around Manhattan's Nolita — or North of Little Italy — district and noticing different restaurants that specialized in one thing, from craft beer to martinis or thin-crust pizzas to paninis.
"We wanted to incorporate all those different items under one roof and offer that from a culinary standpoint to our guests," he said.
The property, once a sports bar, was shuttered and run-down when Sharma and his partners first saw it over a year ago. Sharma said the large, horseshoe-shaped bar, reminiscent of old New York bars, was a big draw.
They leased the building and spent six months remodeling, Sharma said. Nolita had a soft-opening more than 40 days ago to make sure staff was well-trained and to develop a marketing strategy, he said. The official opening and ribbon-cutting took place Tuesday.
"It's nice to have [Sharma] come home and open up a restaurant here," said Mayor Marcia A. Leclerc, who cut the ribbon. "He did an outstanding job of converting a place that was empty."
The décor is a blend of Art Deco and vintage wood and brick.
The family is not new to the restaurant business. Sharma said his uncle ran an Italian restaurant for more than a decade in East Hartford. Sharma said his family also runs Pie Guys of New York, a quick-serve pizzeria and bar in Waterbury.
Nolita's menu offers Italian pasta dishes, pizza and calzones, as well American fare like burgers and wings. The dining area seats 110 people while the bar and lounge area can hold up to 90 people.
The bar features unique and hard-to-find craft beer, more conventional beer and cocktails.
The restaurant delivers, offers catering and can host banquets. For more information visit: www.facebook.com/NolitaRR