Once upon a time, there was Arcudi’s.
It was not Westport’s first pizza place — that honor goes to Westport Pizzeria, opened 40 years ago and still blissfully unchanged, right down to the paper place mats — but Arcudi’s was among the most loved.
It was home to two institutions: the “square pizza,” which makes sense because pizza boxes are square, and Joe Arcudi, who also made plenty of sense much of the time. Joe had 3 loves: his restaurant (in the free-standing store next to Carvel’s); baseball and softball (he coached and played), and Westport. In fact, he parlayed his Saugatuck roots and local renown into a term as first selectman, from 1993 through 1997. He was not what some people in Westport expected in a chief executive, but the Arcudi family was here a lot longer than you, I or Joe and Mel Mioli, and he always had the town’s best interests at heart.
In the mid-’90s, Joe took his square pizza to Norwalk. During and since that time, a parade of pizza places plowed through town. There are strictly home-grown places like Angelina’s; big chains (Bertucci’s) and small (Planet, John’s Best). There are spots with suitable Italian names (Joe’s, 4 Brothers), and those whose names have nothing to do with pizza (Martha’s? Gimme a break.)
There are names that miss by an inch (Pizza Thyme — a bit too frou-frou, no?) and by a mile (S&M Pizza — you didn’t want to know what those guys were doing in the back). There have been several others, clustered in the Westfair area, all of whose names (except Slice) I forget.
But now — bellisimo! — Arcudi’s is coming back.
Soon, the very same storefront — most recently the site of Chef’s Table, which served great food perhaps a wee bit more health-conscious than pizza — will house Arcudi’s. Joe will be back in action, no doubt wearing the same apron and dishing up the same great grub. You may not be able to go home again, but you will feast on a square pizza at Arcudi’s in Westport.
Now, if we could work that same magic on Big Top…