Tomato and Basil, a new addition to Fairfield's booming enclave of trendy restaurants, offers tasty pizzas, healthy salads and an assortment of hearty pasta and meat entrées, too.

Opening its doors a few weeks ago in early June, owner Chris Pedicini of Norwalk is pleased with the lunch and dinner crowds the Black Rock Turnpike eatery has already attracted.

"We wanted to appeal to a wide customer base and provide a fun place to get pizza and a little something more in this part of town," he said

As a former owner of Greenwich Pizzeria, Pedicini brings to Tomato and Basil a strong background in Italian cuisine. However, after completely renovating and transforming the former site of Cohen's Optical into a restaurant, Pedicini's first order of business was to hire expert chef, Vincent Mascaro, and pizza man extraordinaire, Daniel D'Alto, to manage its kitchen, he said. Pedicini's role at Tomato and Basil will be to primarily manage the restaurant's day-to-day operation.

"I could cook everything on our menu but I wanted to be out front this time," he said.

Business so far is much better than he anticipated.

"I thought this is where we would be six months from now," Pedicini said. "But, we've had a great lunch crowd."

The recipe used to make the pizza has been passed down through his family for more than 30 years. Tomato and Basil also offers pizza made with whole wheat crust.

The menu features a variety of pizza toppings and 12 different kinds of salads. However, he also explained that dinner fare -- including daily specials, such as scallops saltimbocca and some the heartier pasta dishes -- are not part of the restaurant's more healthy options.

"Without a doubt, they are delicious meals, though," Pedicini said. "We offer all of the traditional Italian dishes, like chicken Parmigianino and veal plicate and a nice rack of lamb, too."

Growing up in Westchester, N.Y., the pizza is made from a recipe that has been in Pedicini's family for more than 30 years.

Along with the good food, Pedicini said part of the restaurant's success is in its customer service.

"We're very customer focused," he said. "At the end of the day, if our customers are happy, then our business will grow."

Patricia Ritchie, president and chief executive officer of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, is excited to see a new restaurant join the town's business community.

"The more the merrier," Ritchie said. "We are really becoming the restaurant mecca here in Fairfield. I'm delighted that they want to open up here in Fairfield, but who wouldn't want to be here? This is a wonderful town."

Ritchie also added that she likes the restaurant's name. "Tomato and basil go so well together," she noted. "It's my favorite dish in the summertime. What a great name for a restaurant."

Pedicini explained that the name was spontaneously created when he and a few friends were sitting around a table and brainstorming about building the new business. Initially, he said that it was going to only be a pizzeria. However, after 10 months of searching for the "perfect" location, when he settled on the Black Rock site, Pedicini realized that he could appeal to a wider clientele by changing the initial concept of his restaurant. He is excited by Tomato and Basil's close proximity to both Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University, because he hopes to establish a solid late-night takeout business. He also likes being near Easton and Redding.

"People have already come in and said that they've waited for a place like this to open on Black Rock Turnpike," Pedicini said.

Tomato and Basil, at 1876 Black Rock Turnpike, is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. For more information, call 203-333-3600, or log onto