Danbury restaurant has royal appeal
The restaurant was formerly Bella Italia, a popular spot for Italian food for over 30 years.
Castello offers northern Italian cuisine. Entrees include pollo scarpariello (a chicken breast with hot Italian sausage, rosemary, garlic and hot cherry peppers) and scaloppini sette colli (veal with artichoke hearts, mushrooms and capers in brandy sauce).
The restaurant also specializes in seafood, offering shrimp scampi, calamari cazzarolla and salmon ala griglia.
The name Castello, which means castle, perfectly fits the restaurant, which has an elaborately carved entrance, spiral staircase, imported Italian oil paintings and large open rooms.
The Balidemaj brothers -- Deme, 37; Lenny, 33; and Kenny, 33 -- intentionally chose the building for their restaurant because it reminds them of home. They grew up in a castle in the republic of Montenegro, near southern Italy. According to Lenny Balidemaj, the area attracts many tourists.
"We lived in an old castle on 30 acres that had originally been owned by our grandparents," said Lenny Balidemaj, a Port Chester, N.Y., resident. "It was built from stone, and there was a big garden in the back. You can see the Mediterranean Sea from our house."
The castle had an inn and a restaurant in it, which their parents operated with help from their 10 children.
"Each day when we came home from school, we helped pick vegetables from the garden that our mother used in the restaurant," Lenny Balidemaj said. "We also helped inside the restaurant in any way we could."
When Lenny and Deme Balidemaj, a Greenwich resident, arrived in the United States in 1994, they opened Il Castello restaurant in Mamaroneck, N.Y. Il Castello resembled a castle as well.
When Kenny Balidemaj, a Port Chester resident, came to America several years later, he joined his brothers in the business.
"Many of our dishes were taken from our mother's recipes back in Italy," said Demi Balidemaj. "Some of these are pappardelle al fungi pasta and tiramisu dessert. The sauces for all the fish dishes came from her as well."
At Castello, all dishes are made on the premises.
"Our escargot is prepared with fresh grape tomatoes, roasted garlic and basil," Lenny said. Many restaurants make the dish with butter sauce, but "Fresh herbs have a better taste than butter sauce."
Kenny Balidemaj said he and his siblings have always been close. "We now each have families of our own and get together all the time."
The brothers have 11 children among them. The castle of their childhood is still in the family and one of their brothers now runs the restaurant. "We make a trip over there every summer with the whole family," Kenny said.
The Balidemaj brothers think the castle look of their new restaurant will appeal to customers in this area.
"It is a little bit different from the typical square shape of most of the restaurants around here," Lenny said.
Castello Restaurant, 2 Padanaram Road, Danbury, is open for lunch Mondays through Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m.; Fridays for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 5 to 11 p.m.; Saturdays for dinner from 5 to 11 p.m., and Sundays from 2 to 9 p.m.
There is a separate entrance for pizza orders. Takeout is available. Valet parking is offered on weekends. Call (203) 743-3828.