Tag Archives: One River Art + Design

New Pizza Place Rising In Old Bertucci’s

If you’ve been waiting for Ignazio’s — the new pizza place in the old Bertucci’s — to open…

… you’ll have to wait a little longer.

The build-out is taking a while. Owner Louis Termini hopes for September.

Meanwhile, here’s the antipasto.

Termini — a Brooklyn native — says he opened the first oven-fired oven in the Hartford area, in 1990. Luna Pizza soon expanded to 7 locations in Hartford County.

He returned to his native borough when he found a great location underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.

There was one problem: It was around the corner from the legendary Grimaldi’s.

No problem! Ignazio’s — named after his father — has been a huge hit.

So Termini is not fazed by coming into a town that has more than its share of excellent Italian restaurants.

It’s a town he knows well. On drives between Brooklyn and Hartford, he stopped here often for lunch.

“I enjoy eating out,” he says. “I think I tried every place in Westport.”

Termini grew up on the water. In February he rented a house on Saugatuck Shores. He loved sitting in his grandmother’s rocking chair on the heated porch.

This summer, he’s enjoying it even more.

A realtor friend from the Bronx helped find the Bertucci’s site. “He’s Jewish, I’m Italian,” Termini says. “But we have the same childhood memories.”

There’s another New York connection: the Westport landlord knows the Brooklyn restaurant well. His sister lives around the corner from it.

Termini learned pizza-making from his mother and grandmother. He tweaked their recipes, so his pies are “a little different” than the standard neighborhood pizzerias of his youth.

He is proud of his fresh mozzarella. And he uses the same olive oils, cheeses, plum tomatoes and sauces he grew up with.

The doors are open. But Ignazio’s is still a few weeks away from welcoming customers.

Yet Termini is more than just a pizzeria owner. He’s also an artist. He got into the restaurant business after his first child was born — because, he says, of the type of artist he was: “starving.”

So he’s pleased to share Ignazio’s space with One River Art + Design. Shearwater — the popular Fairfield coffee bar, where Termini gets his java — will be there too.

Termini will offer both thin crust and Sicilian pizza from his wood-fired oven. Of course he’ll serve other dishes, like calzones — “and a few surprises we don’t have in Brooklyn.”

He’s discovered Connecticut Farm Fresh Express, which delivers produce. He’s looking for a good Connecticut beer to serve too.

Termini definitely knows the territory. The other day, he had dinner at the new Meatball Shop. He enjoyed it.

Of course, he notes, “there’s room for more than one meatball in town.”

Just Alyson’s Luck: One River Art + Design Comes To Town

Growing up in Westport, Alyson Luck was surrounded by art.

Her mother enrolled her in kids’ and adult classes. She studied with Carol Young in that gifted instructor’s garage, then with Roe Halper in her noted studio.

“I was always part of an after-school group,” the 2000 Staples High School graduate recalls. “My art friends and I always had a place to go, and be together.”

At the University of Michigan she majored in art history, and discovered museum education. She earned a master’s in the field from Bank Street, then spent over a decade at New York’s Jewish Museum and Guggenheim. She managed teaching artists, worked with educators and directed family and teacher programs.

Alyson Luck (right) at work.

Along the way, she and her husband started a family. They moved to the suburbs — in fact, into the house she’d grown up in.

“Most people get stuck living in their parents’ home,” she says. “But I love this little cape. This was my dream.”

However, raising 2 small children meant she left her great job behind. She never thought she’d find anything like it here.

Not long ago though, she spotted a listing on Indeed for the One River School in Westport. You haven’t heard of it yet. But you will.

Founded in 2012 in Englewood, New Jersey — “one river” west of New York City — by former School of Rock CEO Matt Ross, One River School of Art + Design aims to transform art education in the US.

Alyson Luck

Drawing students of all ages — with classes less structured than traditional “art schools,” and featuring a contemporary focus — One River offers year-round programs, a flexible curriculum, and instruction in a variety of art forms.

Its 11th school opens soon in part of the former Bertucci’s restaurant, on the Post Road near the Sherwood Island connector. Its director: Alyson Luck.

She’s excited by Ross’ vision, and invigorated by the chance to bring One River to the newly refurbished, easily accessible and airy space. (“I realized I always studied art in a basement,” Alyson laughs.)

For younger artists, One River will provide project-based classes, taught by a contemporary artist. Adult classes are less structured.

The school will run year-round, not the traditional “semester” model.

The Bertucci’s space will include 3 classrooms, and a digital design lab. There’s a gallery too, for emerging artists to show their work. The target for opening is early May.

“We’re modernizing art education for everyone’s busy lives. This is not just for retirees!” Alyson says.

One River Art + Design will occupy part of the former Bertucci’s building.

Alyson envisions One River to be an integral part of the town’s art scene. She’s encouraged that although it’s not yet open, it’s already making waves.

She’s heard from a number of artists — and organizations like the Artists Collective of Westport — welcoming One River to town. “They tell me about the importance of arts to the community,” she says. “They don’t know I grew up here! I totally get it.”

Art has been Alyson Luck’s life. Now she’s getting ready to bring art to her former and current hometown — in a space everyone knows, re-purposed for the future.

(For more information on One River Westport, click here.)