Sicilian native Michael Colomba always wanted to launch a business inspired by the food of his childhood. Growing up in Castellammare del Golfo, on the island’s northwest side, family members made their own cheese and olive oil, and cultivated enough tomatoes for a winter’s worth of sauce. After years of working as a developer and general contractor in the Boston area, he opened Brelundi, a fast casual Italian spot near Waltham Common.
The 3-month-old eatery, with a view to the Charles River just beyond the outbound commuter rail tracks, is open daily. The name, Colomba explains, is a mashup of the words breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all three of which are on offer. “I also wanted something that sounds Italian,” he adds.
Executive chef Sandro Caledonna, a 20-year restaurant veteran who worked in several spots in the area, including the former Ciro’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria in Waltham, heads up the kitchen. Pastry chef Nicola Scolaro hails from Sicily. The menu features Sicilian specialties as well as Italian-American favorites. You order at the counter, settle in to one of 20 seats in a cozy slip of a dining area, and friendly staff ferry your meal. Many customers step off the train and pick up food to go.
Antipasto salad ($9.50), generous in size and large enough to share, features vinaigrette-dressed tuna with capers and diced black olives, plus a dollop of chilled marinated vegetables (roasted fennel, carrot, zucchini, and sundried tomato) nestled on top of fresh romaine. Salami, mortadella, and provolone complete the colorful platter. An excellent version of caponata ($6), the delicious eggplant-and-tomato appetizer with the sweet-tart zip, is served cool in an oblong bowl drizzled with balsamic glaze. The dish is somewhere between a chunky salad and a spread, and comes with Italian bread rolls, baked daily. Also very good is a fresh mozzarella and tomato salad ($7.50), which arrives with a garnish of freshly torn basil.
The kitchen can turn out 30 different versions of arancini, says Colomba. These deep-fried bundles of rice stuffed with a variety of fillings — including breakfast versions with Nutella or egg and cheese — are made throughout the day ($3.50 small, $6 large). One version stuffed with meat, peas, and melted fontina offers a satisfying snack, as does another with spinach and Monterey Jack.
The menu says a calzone feeds one, but it easily serves two. A version with ham and cheese ($7.50) tucked inside is a tad too salty, but the pizza-dough crust offers crisp, yeasty goodness. Eggplant Parmigiana ($8), also fit for sharing, resembles lasagna. Thin breaded-and-fried slices of aubergine are layered with ricotta, and baked with plenty of marinara sauce. It’s mushier in texture than we like, but the flavors are pure comfort food.
Sides like tender beef meatballs or pork sausages (both 2 for $4), topped with red sauce, are convenient takeout to serve as a quick weekday meal. Meats can also be tucked into a hot sandwich ($8.50) or added to a plate of spaghetti or ziti ($4 for marinara, $5 for meat sauce or pesto).
Don’t miss a pastry called “Iris” ($3.50), which Colomba says Sicilians will recognize. Homemade brioche is filled with sheep’s milk ricotta, chocolate chips, and a bit of lemon zest, rolled in breadcrumbs, fried, then dusted with cinnamon-sugar.
At first glance, you might mistake one for an oversized arancini. It’s in a refrigerated pastry case next to the register. Buy one and it may not make it home.
16 Felton St., Waltham, 781-788-8805, www.brelundi.com. All major credit cards accepted. Wheelchair accessible.
Prices Breakfast sandwiches, arancini $3.50-$6.50. Salad, soup, sandwiches $5-$9.50. Pasta, calzone, pizza $4-$9.50. Pastry and gelato $1.50-$4.95.
Hours Daily 7 a.m.-9 p.m.
What to order Antipasto salad, caponata, arancini with meat, cheese, and peas, Iris pastry.Ellen Bhang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.