Lisa Morale, a part-time hairstylist of 20 years, and her co-workers at Salon Jo-Davi in Trumbull enjoy conversations on a variety of topics, including good places to eat.
"Many people have been saying that there's never anywhere new to go," Morale said.
This inspired Morale, her husband Umberto, Thomas Carney and his wife Anita to open Tula, a restaurant and lounge with a twist on old Italian cuisine.
Many have passed Tula's black sign with a yellow leaf. It may conjur up images of the heroine in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding for some, but for the four partners of the soon to be opened restaurant the name has another meaning.
"Tula is all of our initials together," says Morale. "My husband's parents are from Rome, from Torino, and we were told by his mom, after we had named it, that it meant table in their dialect."
Inside is a series of warm neutral colored booths and dark tables. The seating is supplemented by an outdoor patio set-up making the place look warm and inviting.
"I feel like people always have to travel to find something,” says Morale. "So I wanted to bring them a meeting place with great food."
Set to open in a couple of weeks, Tula's menu will be comprised of "eclectic cuisine with an Italian twist."
"Italian is our forte, but all of Monroe is Italian so we wanted to focus on being eclectic with a lot of fresh, organic ingredients," says Morale. "We all love good food, know good food, and enjoy good food!"
Of the four partners, two have experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Umberto Morale, originally from Rome, comes from a family that owns hotels and bed and breakfasts in Italy. He himself has experience managing restaurants in Fairfield.
Partner and chef, Thomas Carney, originally from Yonkers, was trained in the top culinary institute in Northern Italy. He was well known for putting a unique spin on dishes when he worked in the kitchen of Spazzi's Restaurant in Fairfield. It's that same cooking style that makes up many of the dishes at Tula. In addition, they will be serving homemade breads, mozzarella, pastas and desserts, including Carney's renowned apple tart.
"It's hard to say what our signature dish is now, because usually they evolve," says Carney.
"I also think the customers are the ones that really decide what a restaurant is known for," adds Morale.
"We've been friends for 20 years," says Morale. "We always wanted to open a restaurant together, but the timing never seemed right."