The Lunch Break Chronicles

with Chris Preovolos

Colonial Expansion: Colony Grill to take on Fairfield

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1/21/2010

COLONY GRILL: 172 MYRTLE AVE., STAMFORD

If you want Kansas City barbecue, you go to Arhtur Bryant’s. Not the fake one at the casino, but the one on Brooklyn Avenue where the walls are lacquered with decades of hickory smoke.

Dungeness crab is best eaten San Francisco, fresh off a day-boat.

Pastrami on Rye? Katz’s Delicatessen.

Sausage and hot-oil pizza may too be one of those things where geography plays a big role, but Colony Grill in Stamford, known for its ultra-greasy and cracker-thin pies, has confirmed a franchised pizzeria is in the works for Fairfield. This is big news.

They have licensed the name and recipe to a third party, who will be working very closely with owners Gary James and Jim Screws, stepsons of longtime owner Eugene “Bobo” Bohannan who died in 2007. According to James, the new Colony will open sometime this spring or early summer in downtown Fairfield on the Post Road.

The Cult of Colony is strong. The feverish, rabid, fanatical patrons swear it is the best pizza in Stamford and turn a blind eye to many of Colony’s shortcomings. I am a card-carrying member: I have them on speed dial and even though they take the phone of the hook when it gets busy, I still call back. I put up with what some consider the poor service.

I drank the Kool-Aid a long time ago.

Certainly, the paradox is undeniable. I know I’ll have heartburn fours hours after tucking into a hot oil pie, but its draw – like the gravitational pull of the moon – is one of the strongest forces mankind has ever known.

In discussing the possibility of a Colony in Fairfield with a friend he worried if they would be able to “keep up the same quality.” This is almost laughable. Quality is not a word that comes to mind when I think about Colony.

The cheese isn’t exactly fresh mozzarella, the pizza swims in grease and most of the vegetable toppings are canned. I say all of this as a devout follower, but it is not a ‘quality’ pie in the epicurean sense of the word.

Even so, I understand what he is saying. Colony possesses a quality of a different sense, that of a neighborhood bar and gathering place. It is a landmark. An institution. A place where the walls are covered with portraits of Stamford’s men going off to war, yellowing photographs of city leaders – not of the political kind – but leaders of our social clubs, our sporting teams and our communities.

The rich history of Stamford is not lost on even the most casual diner at Colony as he sits down in one of the uncomfortably straight-backed booths, is confronted with a harried and at times surly member of the waitstaff and orders a glorious, glistening hot-oil pie.

Can the aura of Colony be transported up the line to Fairfield?

As the only Stamford restaurant I have ever seen referenced in the hallowed pages of Gourmet magazine, Colony is well-known among lower Fairfield County pizzaphiles, but it is so particular to Stamford, I have to wonder about the viability of a Fairfield Colony.

Sure, Frank Pepe’s did it, but they are in a class of their own; my love for Colony does not blind me so much as to not realize New Haven is clearly the greatest pizza town in the nation. But can Colony?

Things have been changing slowly at Colony, so maybe ambitions beyond Stamford are not a surprise. I was shocked to see a martini menu (let alone a pizza menu) sitting on my table on a recent visit.

There are few troubles in life that a cold glass of Schaefer, a shot of Wild Turkey and a Colony pie cannot cure, but a martini with my pizza? I just can’t picture Fitzy serving one.

But make no mistake Fairfield, they sling a killer pie. No doubt.

–CP

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Categories: General
Chris Preovolos

10 Responses

  1. Brady says:

    why in God’s name would you ever go there?! go down the street and see my boy sammy at southport pizza. you will never even think of going to colony again…

  2. Steve says:

    I’ve always considered my rare visits to Colony a special treat, and I love the pizza and strange decor. The Fairfield location will be a totally new build-out, but I would recommend that they keep the theme of the old, tired looking neighborhood shot and a beer joint, which happens to serve a great pizza. The new operators may also want to consider getting the word out to the Fairfield locals, to bring in any old framed photos of notable friends or family members (sports, military, local politicians…etc.), or old black and white photos of a forgotten downtown Fairfield from days long gone by; as many as possible, covering the walls and behind the bar. After all the economic hell most people have gone through these past 2 years, comfort and affordability is the new “cool” in dining. Personally, I’ve grown tired of the latest and greatest higher end restaurants and bars, trying to reinvent good food, and charging $10.00 for a drink. Ahhhh, yes, a colony pie, all to myself, and an ice cold brew. Now that’s comfort! One more thing though; This new location should seriously consider adding a char-broiler in the the kitchen, and adding just one more item to the menu….a plump, juicy, char broiled Angus burger, simply served with chips and a pickle.

  3. Mike says:

    It’s going into the old Fairfield Stationers store, across from Borders. Can’t wait!

  4. Mike says:

    From what I hear the Colony in Fairfield is going to be an exact match to the food served in Stamford. The new owners are working very closely with Stamford so it should be the same delicious pizza but in a newer venue with (hopefully) better service. Can’t wait to try the new location.

  5. Rick,

    I’m sorry, that is my mistake, I think it’s in the 1500 block, actually.

    –CP

  6. Rick says:

    Why do you post saying it will open at 1215 Post Rd? That’s where Pizzeria Molto is located and they opened only 4 months ago…I doubt they are going out of business.

  7. KingofThreeLakes says:

    By the way, sorry for deviating from the topic of Colony going all franchise on you! Personally, I am not a fan. Growing up in Stamford, I’ve grown partial to that local twist known as the greek pizza. Post Corner in Darien always works for me. If I want the real deal, I just take a drive to my least favorite boro and hit Di Fara or Grimaldi’s.

  8. KingofThreeLakes says:

    This is how I roll with Russ & Daughters… Meet up with 3-5 friends/fellow food adventurers and be prepared to spend a wad of cash while watching the lost art of hand slicing smoked fish. Buy a half pound each of at least 4 of the following: Gaspe smoked nova, Irish, Scottish, Norwegian, Pastrami cured, gravlax, baked (kippered) salmon, and some old school belly lox. then move on to a few fishes of the white variety. My favorite is smoked sable (AKA black cod, but try trout, peppered mackerel and the divine whitefish. Finish your purchase off with some crackers or bialys and some plain cream cheese, then get some chocolate babka and a variety of dried fruit. THEN head over with your food to DBA just a few blocks away on 1st Ave btwn 2nd & 3rd streets – my favorite bar on earth. Order some great whiskies among these: http://www.drinkgoodstuff.com/ny/whisky.asp to accompany your fish or opt for a sick belgian, english cask conditioned or any of the other 200 beers they serve to pair with your feast and your babka and fruit. Prepare to spend an entire Sunday afternoon on this meal and don’t do it on a day when you have other obligations/appointments. I’d be happy to participate!

  9. I’m perfectly willing to accept your criticism on this point. I was in Russ & Daughters the other day and didn’t have any idea what was going on. I certainly need an education in this area…

    –CP

  10. KingofThreeLakes says:

    Chris, you’re usually spot on, but I have to disagree with you on the pastrami on rye comment. No surprise that a left coaster sings the praises of a place like Katz’s, which became a tourist-y punchline a long time ago, along with Stage and Carnegie. It lost its luster when it moved to 33rd street, but Second Avenue Deli was and always will be the king, in my humble opinion. For those who want a primer on the ever dwindling NYC deli scene, this is a good reference… http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/08/01/something-to-nosh-on-heres-the-skinny-on-jewish-delis/