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North End single-alarm fire to close restaurant for weeks

4 firefighters had minor injuries

An upscale Italian restaurant in Boston’s North End will be closed for several weeks after an early-morning kitchen fire damaged the building on Sunday and injured four firefighters, officials said.

Steve MacDonald, a spokesman for the Boston Fire Department, said the one-alarm blaze at Prezza at 24 Fleet St. broke out about 3 a.m. in the ductwork in the walls of the kitchen on the first floor and spread to the second-floor ceiling.

He said the bottom two floors of the three-story building had heavy damage from smoke and water, and seven people had to evacuate apartments on the second and third floors.

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Damages were estimated at $350,000, and it is not clear when the building will be cleared to reopen, according to MacDonald.

The fire did not appear to be suspicious but the cause is under investigation, MacDonald said. He said four firefighters were treated at area hospitals for minor injuries.

George Regan, a public relations executive in Boston who represents the restaurant, said owner and chef Anthony Caturano hopes to reopen the restaurant by Labor Day.

Caturano could not be reached for comment.

Regan said the restaurant has established itself over the past 11 years as a premier ­dining venue in a neighborhood known for its Italian cuisine.

“Celebrities go there,” he said. “Tourists go there.”

Regan said Prezza has been forced to cancel several receptions and events that were scheduled for the coming weeks.

“You couldn’t have picked a worse month,” Regan said. “They’ll reopen, but it’s going to take a while, and the people in the neighborhood have been very helpful.”

Boston Globe restaurant critic Devra First gave Prezza a three-star rating out of four in a review last year.

“Prezza’s menu features big flavors to match its big portions,” First wrote in February 2011. “Caturano, who got his start cooking with Todd English at Olives, takes much of his inspiration from the peasant dishes of Abruzzo and beyond.”

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Prezza took to Facebook on Sunday to inform customers of the temporary closure, and several people posted notes of support.

“So sorry to hear this — The Neptune Oyster [another neighborhood restaurant] crew is thinking of you all,” one commenter wrote. “Let us know if we can help in any way!”

Others expressed hope for a quick recovery.

“Good luck with a speedy reopening,” said one commenter. “Your loyal customers will be waiting.”


Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.