It's pretty incredible to think that itty-bitty state of Connecticut has two unique styles of pizza, when most states have zero. The New Haven style, which is perhaps the most widely known, is a close cousin to the Brooklyn style, made famous by places like Grimaldi's and Patsy's in NYC. And then there's this other thing that spawned from Stamford. It's more of a bar pie, akin to the thin crust bar pie places in Northern Jersey (Kinchley's, Star Tavern, Nellie's, et al.), with nothing in common with its New Haven cousin. We found ourselves at Colony Grill, to see what was doin'.
The list of toppings contains the usual traditional suspects. But Colony Grill is known for their hot oil pies, which are served with or without "stinger" peppers, which may or may not be something like serranos. If you read the internet, you'll hear about how spicy this oil is. Well I'm here to tell you it isn't all that spicy. At least on the day we visited.
We ordered two pies, both with hot oil and stingers, one with pepperoni, and one with sausage. In my mind, I was expecting a greasy, salty, magnificent mess. To my surprise, there didn't see to be much in the way of salt. Overall I thought both pies, even with the chile oil, were sort of bland. The pizza makers have balance in mind here with the toppings, however. These pies were not overly topped. An appropriate amount of unremarkable cheese and sauce. Just enough sausage and pepperoni. But damn, there just wasn't much in the way of flavor!
It appears that these pies are rolled, docked, and cooked in a pan. This leads to a firm, thin, crispy crust. There was a bit of droop with one of the pies, which to my mind is completely acceptable and not a flaw in the least. However, the outer edges of these pies were a bit too crunchy to eat. I suspect some people would love those crispy bits, but the crust was not to my liking.
The place is very attractive. It reminded me of Pepe's and Modern, in that it's a double wide building, with two long rooms, separated by a long wall. In the case of Colony, there's a long bar in one of the rooms. If I'm not mistaken, the place was just remodeled. They really kept the old school charm intact, with the tin ceilings, ceiling fans, dark woods, and various pictures and doodads behind the bar. A warm, comfortable joint.
I can't say that I'll be running back to Colony Grill, but it's worth a consideration if you're a student of pizza and are interested in experiencing various regional styles.
Colony Grill : 172 Myrtle Ave : Stamford, CT : 203.359.2184 (also in Fairfield and Milford!)