By Paul Lonardo
When Maria and Dimitri Markonidis began looking for a location for their family restaurant, an opportunity presented itself that they simply could not let pass by.
Although they were living in Hudson, Massachusetts, the couple became aware that Spicoli’s Bar & Grill on School Street in Albion village would be closing its doors. Maria was familiar with the restaurant, having eaten there with her teenage son and teammates after nearby hockey practice. When the space became available, Maria and Dimitri jumped at the chance.
“We saw a lot of potential,” Maria says. “We just loved the location. It had the small town charm we were looking for. Being part of a community was something very important to us.”
The place was gutted, the interior redesigned, from the floors, to walls and ceiling. They installed an all new kitchen with a state-of-the-art brick pizza oven. They also paved and graded their already existing parking lot for ample parking.
By September the couple celebrated the opening of their Mediterranean-themed Bricco Comfort Food, just a few months later than they had anticipated. “It was more work than we thought,” Maria says. “When you start a renovation process as big as the one we started, you naturally run into obstacles…But it all worked out great. We have a beautiful dining room and a brand-new kitchen that we’re very proud of.”
Bricco features a host of authentic Greek and Italian recipes, many of which have been passed down by Maria’s family from generation to generation. While she is very active in the kitchen, Maria can also be found running the business side of things as well.
The basic secret to Bricco’s comfort food, Maria says, is to keep things simple. “Comfort food by nature is simple ingredients and freshness and getting away from the processed foods that you see in many of the chain restaurants. We keep the menu small to help ensure that freshness.”
Simplicity and quality food seem to be just what Bricco’s patrons want in a neighborhood restaurant. It took a little while, but word is getting out, and their clientele has been steadily increasing since opening their doors last fall. Their brick oven flatbread pizza, which has been wildly popular, is just one of the reasons why.
“It’s a thinner crust-style pizza,” Maria explains, “as opposed to your traditional Sicilian, which has a thicker crust – we offer both…but it’s more about the toppings and the taste than it is about the bread. Our sauce is made fresh, by hand, every morning… it makes a big difference that you can taste.”
Maria says, “One thing Dimitri and I didn’t want was to walk into a ready-made restaurant, one where you just change the sign outside and open the doors. To me, that’s boring. I wanted the challenge of finding our niche, trying new things and seeing what works and what doesn’t work. We wanted to incorporate our own flair, combining a Mediterranean influence with the original New England dishes.”
The Markonidis family have built close ties within the Lincoln community, opening Bricco’s doors to community events, getting involved with their neighbors and playing a role that has a real impact on the lives of the village. Just this past February, Bricco hosted a charity event for Smiles for Brookie, a group formed to aid a local 5-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. The family-friendly fundraising party had dancing, a magician, a face-painting station and other fun activities for the children. More recently, the restaurant hosted a pasta dinner fundraiser for the nearby Northern Lincoln Elementary School.
“I enjoy bringing people together,” Maria says, “and being part of the fabric of the community.”
For Greek, Italian or classic American cuisine prepared in a Mediterranean style with only the freshest ingredients, Bricco Comfort Food is open Tuesday-Thursday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday, Noon to 11 p.m., and Sunday, Noon to 10 p.m.
For the menu or more information, visit them online at briccocomfortfood1.com or stop by Bricco Comfort Food, 48 School Street, Lincoln.