Ones to Watch | By Sabrina Davis
It’s in the title. Whatever you’re having at Sandella’s Flatbread, the main ingredient is always the same. “That’s probably what makes us most unique, that we make all of our products with one simple piece of bread,” says Mike Stimola, Sandella’s founder and president. That’s not to say there isn’t choice at Sandella’s; the menu runs 80 items long. And while the bread is a plain, centuries-old Middle-Eastern recipe, flavor abounds in the fixings.
Stimola opened Sandella’s, named for his wife, Sandy, and mother, Ella Jane, in 1994 in West Redding, Connecticut, and offered traditional sandwiches on baguettes and artisan breads. He introduced flatbread in 1996, a novel concept back then. “We spent a lot of time educating our customers about flatbread and the difference between flatbread and tortillas.” After developing new ways to use the flatbread—for pizzas, paninis, quesadillas, salads, and rice and noodle bowls—Stimola eventually dropped his other breads and added Flatbread to the name.
“The flatbread just worked for us,” he says. “You could really taste the ingredients of the sandwich, and it made our operation relatively simple.” The basic difference, by the way, between the flour-water-salt recipe for flatbread and flour tortillas is the vegetable shortening added to keep tortillas soft. “Today, many of the products being sold as flatbread contain preservatives and fat to make them flexible; not ours,” Stimola says. Sandella’s bread is a traditional lavash, soft when fresh but dries to a crispy cracker-like texture.
The crispy texture is perfect for quesadillas and thin-crust pizzas. Quesadilla selections range from barbecue to beef fajita, while the pizza list includes Brazilian and pesto chicken.
Salads and noodle and rice bowls are served over a soft flatbread pushed into a bowl. Options include Caesar, Cobb, and Greek salads and chicken fajita, Mediterranean, and mesquite barbecue bowls.
Wraps and paninis choices range from beef, chicken, and pork to turkey and vegetarian varieties. Some locations serve breakfast wraps. The top-selling menu item is the Chicken Verona wrap (grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese with Sandella’s pesto mayo).