New restaurant brings Sicilian ‘street food’ to Trumbull

Photo of Amanda Cuda

TRUMBULL — The display case near the entrance of SICILEat is filled with the tastes that Francesco Buscema grew up with.

The restaurant at 123 Monroe Turnpike has a heavy emphasis on what Buscema — who was born in Palermo, Sicily — calls “street food.” These are bready, often fried concoctions such as arancina a carna (fried rice balls stuff with meat sauce and peas), a street calzone (a brioche bun stuffed with mozzarella and ham) and spinacina (a brioche stuffed with a creamy bechamel sauce, mozzarella and spinach).

“This is part of my dream,” said Buscema, the restaurant’s owner and manager, who now lives in Trumbull. “To introduce a new concept here and to bring a piece of Sicily to Trumbull.”

SICILEat, which opened May 19, features an array of casual Italian offerings, including a variety of pizzas and a selection of grinders and burgers. But it’s the street food that Buscema perhaps is most excited to offer.

Buscema grew up in Germany, but Sicily has always been a part of his life. He ran a pizzeria there for four years before he met his wife and moved with her to Connecticut. Once he was here, he said, he had a hard time finding some of his favorite dishes at area restaurants, so he began making them himself.

When he saw the space available on Monroe Turnpike, right next to Mex on Main, it seemed like an opportunity.

“We wanted to have a very casual place,” said Buscema. Diners can either take their items to go, or eat at one of the tables in the small but comfortable dining room.

The center of many of Buscema’s beloved street food offerings is the brioche bun, a rich and buttery bread with a hint of sweetness. For his savory items, the bun is stuffed with meats, cheese, vegetables and sauce, but there’s also a brioche-based dessert on the SICILEat menu. Called Amore Mio, it features a brioche stuffed with the chocolate-hazelnut spread Nutella.

Trumbull economic and community development director Rina Bakalar applauded Buscema and SICILEat for bringing more culinary diversity to the area.

“They are adding a great option, Sicilian street food, to the array of restaurants and eateries in Trumbull,” she said. “Their location, next to Mex on Main — a local favorite — provides more needed options for the businesses and their employees in the area as well as Trumbull, Monroe and Shelton residents nearby.”

SICILEat is one of several new restaurants that have come to Trumbull over the past year, with others including the Mexican restaurant Guacamole’s at the Westfield Trumbull mall, and the Italian wine bar, Ecco.

So far, Buscema said, SICILEat is starting to gain some traction among area diners, who are looking to try something new.

“The best thing is for them to come here and make their own experience,” he said.