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.
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