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Colony Grill Serves the Best of Pies

This is a tale of two Colonies. No, I’m not talking Dickens. I’m talking pizza. Colony Pizza, specifically. With two Colony Grill locations up and running, I thought it might be good culinary sport to do a taste test and see how the pizzerias compare. So, I embarked on back-to-back Colony visits. Two Colony pizzas in one day. It was an ambitious goal -- some might say foolish. But I’ve completed my mission, and really, it was just the best of pies.

Colony Grill has been a Stamford institution since 1935. Brothers Gary James and Jim Screws are the current proprietors of the business, which has been in their family since 1961. It’s a “what you see is what you get” type of place. Simple, pub décor with friendly pub service to match. No frills here. No pasta or gourmet salads sprinkled with hard-to-pronounce cheeses, just delicious, thin crust, generously topped pizza and domestic beers on tap for under $3. And on any given weekday, you’ll find plenty of locals wiling away their lunch hour in the spacious booths.

On our first pie, we opted for sausage, mushrooms and bell peppers. This should be taken as a sign of my overly ambitious designs for this experiment. When the pizza arrived at our booth, it was heaped with our ordered add-ons. I hefted my first slice off the tray and onto my paper plate. It was heavy. And despite the potential for sogginess, due to my reckless propensity to pile on the toppings, the crust was still crispy. A hallmark of true piemanship. I had two slices. Thankfully, my friend had cash, because Colony in Stamford doesn’t take credit cards. We paid our bill and bid the barman adieu, then headed up the I-95 corridor toward Fairfield.

The new Colony bears some resemblance to the original, but mainly in inspiration only. Fairfield’s Colony Grill is really Colony Grill 2.0. The space is bigger, and brighter than the original. It’s polished. A mid-career Sting song played over the speakers as we walked in and we knew we weren’t in Stamford anymore.

We told our affable server, Hillary, about our little experiment as we placed our order. This time, we opted for the Hot Oil pie, topped only with sauce, cheese and spicy oil. The thought of eating more sausage made me wish I’d worn pants with an elastic waistband.

“Would you like it well done?” Hillary asked. Another slight shift from Stamford’s Colony where such decisions are left to the chef. We decided to take the well done route.

While we were waiting for our second lunch of the day, Hillary explained that the new Colony partners and proprietors of the Fairfield location, Ken Martin, Paul Coniglio, Cody Lee and NHL star Chris Drury, have known each other since childhood. “They were all on the 1989 Trumbull Little League team that won the World Series. The last four digits of our number here are 1989.” So it would seem that the new Colony is not without its history.

Our pizza arrived, accompanied by the same type of paper plates we’d eaten off of in Stamford. “Would you like oregano, parmesan or garlic powder?” Hillary asked. We opt for all of the above and dig in.

Incredibly, the pizza is remarkably similar to what we’d just eaten. It wouldn’t be fair to say it was the same -- we weren’t truly comparing apples to apples, or toppings to toppings in this case. But the crust was cracker crispy, the way a good crust should be. The hot oil added a nice little zing, but didn’t overwhelm. I had two more slices.

As we drew our experiment to a close, Fairfield County Colony Manager Ken Martin joined us at our table. “That’s quite an afternoon,” he said when we told him what we were up to. “And? What do you think?”

Here’s what I think. If you’re looking for a perfect pizza, you’ll find it at either Colony location. Whatever you order, you can rest assured you’re in for a tasty pie, the likes of which you won’t find elsewhere in Fairfield County. The real difference between the two Colonies can be chalked up to ambiance. For a roll up your sleeves and loosen your tie kind of lunch, Stamford’s Colony is your spot. If you’re out shopping with your friends and get a craving for pizza and a nice white by the glass, head to the Fairfield location. You’ll feel right at home. Either way, you really can’t miss.

We thanked Hillary and Ken for their time and asked for the check, which I picked up this time. Fortunately for my friend, Colony’s Fairfield location accepts credit cards.

Colony Grill in Stamford is located at 172 Myrtle Avenue. Find Colony in Fairfield at 1520 Post Road.

Tell me your tale of two Colonies. Do you have a preference? With both locations before you, which do you choose? Come to think of it, what are some of your favorite pizza spots in Fairfield County? Comment here, or email me your thoughts at mmorelli@mainstreetconnect.us.

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