Stratford restaurant owners bring Italian flavor to Milford

MILFORD — Stratford restaurateurs have brought a taste of Italy to Bridgeport Avenue.

Alex and Phyllis Gjeka, who serve as restaurant general manager and owner, respectively, of Stratford’s La Fortuna, spent Tuesday celebrating the opening of their new location — Il Capriccio Ristorante E Bar — in space at 1015 Bridgeport Ave.

“This is another exciting day when we get to open a new business,” said Simon McDonald of the Milford Chamber of Commerce during the grand opening event.

“I wish you a lot of success, and this place looks awesome,” added Milford Mayor Ben Blake. “When you go into this place, it’s like you are transported to Italy or somewhere you want to destination to.”

Alex Gjeka said they opened their Stratford restaurant in 2019, right before the pandemic. He said one of his cousins, who owns two establishments in New Haven, convinced them to go into the restaurant business.

Gjeka said Phyllis has vast experience in Italian cuisine because she worked in the restaurant industry in Rome for nearly two decades.

“Phyllis and one of her cousins immigrated to Rome after they escaped Albania, and that’s where they learned how to cook for 18 years,” said Gjeka.

When they came to the United States, they were able to continue their passion for cooking by opening La Fortuna.

Gjeka said many of their customers were from Milford and Orange, and one of the main requests they received was to open a restaurant in Milford.

“Customer demand was one of the reasons we decided to open in Milford,” he added.

Il Capriccio Ristorante E Bar, according to Gjeka, is truly a “family-run business.

“Me and my wife and my three kids all work here,” he said.

During the pandemic in 2021, the Gjekas said they acquired the lease for their Milford location.

“I’m a contractor by trade, and I started renovating the inside and outside,” Alex Gjeka said. “We did the patio from scratch and made sure to make it an all-season patio, so we can have it open during the winter.”

At La Fortuna, Gjeka said the food is strictly Italian, but at Il Capriccio Ristorante E Bar, it’s both Italian and Latin.

“As you see on the menu, we have Italian entrees and appetizers, but we also have tacos, nachos, and quesadillas. It’s what our customers have been asking that we add to the menu,” he said.