Meridian Industrial


4/30/2020 | Vicki Mitchell


Where can you go at lunchtime and choose a large slice of pizza from numerous offerings, pick up some Italian cookies and pastries, a loaf of freshly baked bread, and a meal for dinner later that night ? It’s all delicious and made right on the premises. Give up? It’s Russo’s Italian Bakery and Pizzeria in Enfield, Connecticut.

For the past 30 years, Rosanna and Giovanni Russo have operated the bakery, and over the years have added the pizzeria, banquet hall, and the homemade meals that are conveniently packaged and frozen for later use.

Rosanna immigrated to the United States from Italy in 1970, and Giovanni arrived in 1981. Introduced by a family member, it was love at first sight for them. The two were married after just four months of dating, and have been together for 40 years! Opening a bakery was their dream, and according to daughter, Tina, “that was the best decision they ever made!” As their three children, Tina, Frank and Joe grew, they all became involved with the bakery business. Today, Tina and Frank work seven days a week at the bakery, as does Rosanna, while Joe is running another enterprise…Russo’s Auto Exchange LLC. Frank does the baking, which he took over from his father, and makes the cookies, cakes and breads. Tina makes pizzas, along with one employee, the frozen meals and her specialty…the 18 different kinds of cannoli’s offered every day! In addition to the regular ricotta cannoli’s, you can choose from such flavors as cookie dough, mint chocolate chip, Reese’s Pieces, raspberry, and seasonal offerings such as pumpkin, peppermint and red velvet.

The take-home meals are all made in Russo’s kitchen, right down to the sauce and meatballs. They are then conveniently packaged and frozen for you to take home to enjoy. Will you choose chicken or eggplant parmigiana, stuffed shells, meat or cheese lasagna, ziti alfredo, chicken cacciatore, or another one of their specialties? Many of these meal options are also available in the banquet hall when you book an event with them. Food is served family style, and the hall seats up to 50 guests. Menus and prices are available online. There is also a small outdoor patio area for you to enjoy your food when the weather is nice.

As far as the pizza goes, you have a choice of up to 10 different kinds, available by the slice or a whole pie. According to regular customer Lorraine Andexler, Russo’s pizza is “always fresh, cooked perfectly, with a wide variety and generous slices. Best pizza in town,” she says, and her husband Martin agrees. Another couple who were recently on a socially responsible outing in the midst of COVID-19, sat in their car in the parking lot, enjoying the nice weather and their sausage grinders they had ordered for lunch. “These are delicious,” they declared. “We haven’t been here for years, but saw them on Facebook and decided to stop by. We’ll be back!”

A special feature added to the bakery’s offerings while the school children are all at home is take-home kits to decorate your own cookies or cupcakes, stuff your own mini-cannoli’s, and a make-it-yourself personal pizza kit.

Frank makes the beautiful cakes, suitable for birthdays, anniversaries, or other special occasions. A favorite seems to be their fruit cake, which has sliced peaches and strawberries in the filling. The Italian cookies, like everything else, comes in a variety of flavors…almond, ricotta, raspberry jellies, coconut, butter with apple, anisette, and more! They make huge quantities around the holidays to fill the cookie trays given as gifts by corporations, and of course, for family gatherings.

Rosanna loves working the front, greeting and waiting on customers. Hers is usually the smiling face that greets you. Giovanni is officially retired, but comes in to help out when he can. The family’s favorite part of the day is seeing their customer’s friendly faces, and the gratification they get when “they take their first bite and are instantly in love.” Rosanna attributes the success of the business as simply “quality products, good food, and service with a smile.” The family also gets pleasure working together every day. Tina sums it up by saying, “we all work the front when necessary, and we all help each other. Some days are better than others, and we can drive each other crazy, but it’s always an amazing feeling to be together. This bakery was our parent’s dream, and now we’ve made it our own.”

Russo’s Bakery and Pizzeria is located at 739 Enfield Street in Enfield, CT • 860-741-7844

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