Trinity Restaurant, an Italian restaurant located at 243 Zion Street in Hartford, is a popular hangout for people who live and work in the city , and it’s easy to see why. Located right across the street from Trinity College (although the two are not affiliated), the restaurant provides a comfortable, moderately priced meal, with a wide varieties of options, in a comfortable setting,.
Owner Natasha Agolli came to the United States from Albania 14 years ago, thinking she would enter the medical profession. "[But] for some reason it didn’t happen, so I ended up in the restaurant business," she said. "I love it. It is also my passion. I don’t regret it."
Having owned two restaurants previously in Albania, Agolli, her husband and son worked for nine years in downtown Hartford, saving money to buy their own restaurant. Four years ago, she bought the failing Timothy’s, renovating it and reopening it as Trinity Restaurant.
It now has a main front dining room with several glass-covered tables and abstract paintings on the walls. There are also two back rooms for additional seating or special parties. The back rooms also have televisions for watching sporting events. There is also limited outdoor seating.
While sometimes there is a wait for seating, the staff is always friendly, and one gets the impression that they really want their customers to enjoy their time. Agolli says this is because it is a family operation. She runs the business with her husband, her sister, her nieces, brother and occasionally other family members.
“If it gets busy, everyone comes,” she said.
In addition to owning the restaurant, Agolli is also the head chef and designed the menu herself.
“We don’t buy anything pre-made, and we cook ourselves,” she said. "I do the shopping myself every day, and we order the fish from really nice places.”
The food speaks for itself. There is a lunch and dinner menu, which share some common entrees. The menu is divided into appetizers, salads, entrees, desserts, pizza and pasta. Previous BYOB, the restaurant now serves wine and beer in quite generous portions.
Just the bread is enough to get you hooked on the restaurant. It is soft and served warm with an oil and pepper dipping sauce.
The marinated roasted artichoke stuffed with creamy goat cheese has a unique flavor that hits all the taste buds. Served in perfectly bite sized pieces, it is an excellent start to the meal.
The Spiced Atlantic Salmon is spicy with a sweet sauce, providing a delectable contrast. It is cooked to perfection. Its side dishes, however, do not have as strong a flavor, but the salmon is so good it makes up for it.
My all-time favorite dish is the Spicy Chicken Gorgonzola, described on the menu as “diced grilled chicken, broccoli, and red peppers, baked in our spicy, light, creamy gorgonzola sauce tossed in farfalla pasta.” Served in a unique skillet, it’s a fascinating combination of flavors and textures. Despite its name, it is not overwhelmingly spicy, and, in fact, has a lovely cheesy aftertaste.
For dessert, the rich tiramisu is a perfect ending. Sweet and milky and lacking the overwhelmingly alcoholic taste common in some tiramisus, it is the perfect blend of dairy, chocolate, and caramel.
Agolli says the business has been successful. “So far, so good,” she said. “[W]hen we started, it was harder, but now we have a clientele.”
While Agolli recognizes that the restaurant is in an economically-depressed area, she says her clientele are often families from places like West Hartford, Glastonbury, and Wethersfield and workers on their lunch break from the business district of Hartford, in addition to students, professors, and parents from Trinity College.
“I love this place because, first of all, I love to cook, and second you can meet some wonderful people here," she said. "And it can bring you happiness. You can get stressed, but most of the time it doesn’t matter, because I’m happy.”
Trinity Restaurant takes reservations for more than 10 people. Takeout and delivery locally is also available, and they will cater for any number of people. It is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and later on the weekends. For more information call 860-728-9822.