They say you can’t go home again. I can’t even remember the last time I visited my native Southern Connecticut. But this weekend, I tasted the region in the form of one of its most beloved specialties. How? Colony Grill, a staple of the area, opened its first NoVA location (and its sixth in total) in Clarendon this fall.
Colony Grill has always seemed a curious figure on the Connecticut landscape to me—a working class Irish pub in a region that residents proudly refer to as the “Gold Coast.” But there’s no corned beef and cabbage alongside the Pabst and Guinness on tap. It’s known for its bar pizzas, a New England phenomenon identifiable by its thin crust and lacy edges.
At Colony Grill, there’s a drink menu on one side of the tabletop menu, then a list of pizza toppings on the other. That’s it, except for two specialty pies that weren’t available when I was a kid: a salad pizza and a breakfast pizza. But to me, there’s really only one thing to order there: a hot oil pizza with pepperoni.
Hot oil? It’s infused with serrano chiles for a slap of heat that burns just a bit with every bite. It leaves the cheese pockmarked from boiling oil, and hands greasy from picking up a slice. A single serrano sits in the middle to add even more heat, but it’s never overwhelming.
Still, what’s most appealing is the crust. It’s almost tortilla-thin, and while it’s crisp, it’s also as chewy as a New York-style pie. The cheese goes almost all the way to the caramelized edge, so there’s no wasted space. For me, it’s a Proustian madeleine. But even if you didn’t grow up eating pizza in Connecticut, the oily pies will make you wish you did. // 2800 Clarendon Blvd. #850, Arlington
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