Opening Soon in Waldwick: Circolo

Exterior 1
Circolo in Waldwick. Photo courtesy Circolo.

A new restaurant is coming to the Waldwick building in which the northern Italian-style restaurant Il Villino occupied for 17 years. George and Thea Kalivas, owners and managing partners of this new spot named Circolo, also owned the popular Il Villino. Over 10 years ago, HSBC bank made this husband and wife team “an offer they couldn’t refuse” to lease the space for a commercial bank location for 10 years, and thus Il Villino was closed.

Approximately a year and a half into the lease, HSBC ceased operations in the building, but still fulfilled the 10-year lease. When the property was once again in the hands of these restaurateurs, they made the decision to open up Circolo, which will have a southern Italian menu. The name was chosen not only because it means “coming together with friends” in Italian, but also because this space has come “full circle” for the couple, from the original restaurant to now having the opportunity to open Circolo.

Interior 2
Interior. Photo courtesy Circolo.

George has a long history in the restaurant industry. His father owned a restaurant in New York City while George was growing up, where he tended bar. After college, he returned to his roots and went into business with his brother and father, opening a waterfront seafood restaurant at the shore. Next, George moved on to own Bistro 18 in Montclair, which he later sold, then Il Villino with his brother, and when that closed, he opened The Plum and the Pear in Wyckoff.

The interior of Circolo was carefully designed by Thea, who retired earlier this year from a career in teaching English. To fulfill her vision for Circolo, nearly everything in the building had to be redone, as the layout of the bank was not conducive to operating a restaurant. Although many local Italian restaurants choose dark wood and dark colored interiors to mimic restaurants in Italy, Thea wanted something lighter.

Interior 3
Interior. Photo courtesy Circolo.

The floor in the main dining area includes 12 patterns of 8×8 mosaic tiles, with varying color schemes. The lower portion of the walls are blue, with a light adobe color on the top. A circular theme is present throughout, including aluminum ceiling tiles with a circle pattern carved into them, and circles on the lamps. Pictures of bicycles decorate the walls, in addition to real Italian bicycles, that give the appearance of riding on a colorful road (which itself is made of hanging circular dining plates). The bicycles are symbolic of the popularity of this mode of transportation in Italy, due to narrow city roads.

Mosaic Tile Floor 4
Mosaic tile floor. Photo courtesy Circolo.

The last unique feature is the pizza oven, which was imported directly from Napoli, and is used to bake Neapolitan-style pizza. The size of the oven presented an interesting challenge during delivery, necessitating the temporary expansion of the doorway. Prior to this, while watching the demolition of the bank’s interior, the Kalivases had come across a penny, right side up. They decided the perfect spot for this penny was inside a tile in the oven, as a sign of good luck.

Lucky Penny In Pizza Oven 5
Lucky penny in the pizza oven. Photo courtesy Circolo.

After trying Circolo, which opens on December 26th, you’ll certainly be circling back for more!

Circolo is located at 53 Franklin Turnpike in Waldwick.


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