Nauti Dolphin has left the building, but the familiar faces have not.

Former Head Chef of Nauti Dolphin at the Levee Derek Furino Sr. and former floor-manager James Carroll have started a new chapter in their lives as co-owners of Old School Pizzeria, which officially opened their doors at the Levee on April 28.

After working for Nauti Dolphin co-owners Scott Hartley and Greg Roberts for many years, Furino and Carroll were asked if they wanted to take over. Hartley and Roberts helped the two by handing them the keys and ensuring a smooth transition, according to Furino and Carroll.

Not too much is cued for change; according to Carroll and Furino, with comparable prices, delivery service, similar high-quality ingredients and the same head chef, Old School Pizzeria hopes to occupy the Levee for a long time. However, they do plan on staying open later on weekends than Nauti Dolphin did and adding new specialty pizzas and sandwiches.

So far, the summer for Old School Pizzeria has consisted of mostly catering. With an additional higher-end catering menu, the restaurant has been able to cater engagement parties and the recent alumni weekend.

Furino says that “once the school year starts it will pretty much be the same thing [as Nauti Dolphin was] … It goes back to grinder, buffalo-chicken, buffalo-chicken, buffalo-chicken, buffalo-chicken, turnover, turnover …”

Carroll and Furino say they are “into quality and doing different things,” and are absolutely interested in student input for their menu. “We’re open to ideas and we’re gonna put em up there – whatever you wanna buy we’re gonna put up,” said Furino.

“I think we’re ready to turn it up a notch from what it was,” said Carroll.

The majority of the change brought by Old School Pizzeria is in the name itself. According to Furino, him and Carroll went through a few different names before finally deciding on Old School Pizzeria.

According to Furino, “we all love going back to old school. It’s an old school neapolitan style pizza. Every time someone refers to something like ‘let’s do it old school,’ that means let’s do it right, let’s do it with experience, let’s do it with the best of knowledge we possibly have from all the times we’ve been doing it – for years and years and years.”

To Furino, old school knowledge means a quality pizza. “It’s hand-tossed dough, we make it all here ourselves, all made to order.”

Originally from New Haven, Furino has been in the business of pizza since he started at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, one of the oldest and most recognized pizzerias in America, 37 years ago.

“I was at Pepe’s for 8 years and then I opened my own couple places here and there, moved to Florida, opened Steffano’s up the road in ‘89, and then I ended up meeting Scott at the original Nauti Dolphin in Black Rock in Bridgeport. I helped him open up there and I went on my way. Then he ended up over in Fairfield and I ended up working for him in Fairfield from ‘92 on,” said Furino.

Carroll had been driving for Nauti Dolphin in Fairfield for 10 years. “I’m only 30 but I’ve been doing food stuff for 14 years; it’s pretty much all I know how to do – both of us are lifers,” he said.

According to Carroll, they plan on sustaining their amicable relationship at the highest level with Nauti Dolphin. “They’re great friends of ours and always will be,” he said.

“We’re pumped, we’re excited. I don’t see us slowing down anytime soon,” said Carroll.

On what is to come, Furino added: “We have plans, but it’s for you guys to wait and see.”

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