New restaurant opening at former Alfa’s on Milford’s Walnut Beach

Nick Amoratis and Crystal Ardito-Meyer pose in front of 54 Naugatuck Ave., the future location of Nautilus Restaurant, in Milford, Conn. June 14, 2022.

Nick Amoratis and Crystal Ardito-Meyer pose in front of 54 Naugatuck Ave., the future location of Nautilus Restaurant, in Milford, Conn. June 14, 2022.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — Although the new Nautilus restaurant at Walnut Beach hasn’t even served its first customer yet, opening it has still been something of a homecoming for co-owners Crystal Ardito-Meyer and Nick Amoratis.

The restaurant is opening in the same location as the former Alfa’s, which Amoratis’ grandfather opened in 1980, and where Ardito-Meyer worked for 16 years.

“My grandfather started Alfa’s Pizza back in 1980, and it was just a pizza place, not a bar,” said Amoratis. “In 2000, my dad and uncle expanded it to be a restaurant and bar.”

But in the 22 years since the expansion, things didn’t always go smoothly, he said.

“Unfortunately, after my dad passed away, things started to go downhill, and this location started to get a bad reputation,” Amoratis said. “That’s why we wanted to do something new and show the community what our vision is, which is different.”

Nautilus, a nautical-themed restauranta, is on track for a mid-to-late summer opening at 54 Naugatuck Ave., the same location as Alfa’s.

“This restaurant is 15 years in the making,” said Ardito-Meyer.

The plan to own a new restaurant started years ago when Ardito-Meyer and Amoratis joked about buying the location one day and opening their restaurant. And now that they have, the work to transform the space into their vision began in April.

“We both have a similar view of what we are trying to do,” said Amoratis. “Because we are close to the ocean, we want to have a nautical theme in the restaurant.”

Sticking with the nautical theme, the name Nautilus resonated with Amoratis and Ardito-Meyer because of its seafaring tradition, but also the origin of the name itself.

“It essentially means a rebirth, perseverance, strength, calm amid chaos,” said Ardito-Meyer. “So that’s what we want to bring back to this community and show them that through tough times we can come together.”

Ironically, the thing that Ardito-Meyer thought she would have to persevere through most has actually been relatively easy, she said.

“The paperwork process has been smooth,” she said. “Materials and getting certain things has been difficult because they are back-ordered, but that’s with everything else.”

One of those items back-ordered is the garage doors, which the two plan to open wide on nice days to bring a beach atmostphere into the restaurant. The doors are currently on a 16-week back order.

Both Ardito-Meyer and Amoratis are familiar with the Walnut Beach community and are excited to be part of its growth.

“It’s exciting to offer something new to this area,” said Ardito-Meyer.

The Nautilus team isn’t finished with the remodel portion of the restaurant, but Amoratis said they are already getting people to stop by asking when they are going to open.

“The responses we are getting have been humbling,” said Ardito-Meyer.

“With social media and people walking by, there has been a lot of positive feedback and well wishes,” said Amoratis.

The plan for the duo is to open by July or August.

A goal for Amoratis and Ardito-Meyer is to not only have a successful business but also be heavily involved with the community.

“We want to give back to the community and work with other local businesses together,” said Amoratis. “We want to do charity events, and we want to be a positive force in the neighborhood.”