Stamford’s iconic Colony Grill, known for its hot-oil pie, is officially open for business in the county.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF COLONY GRILL
Let’s get something out of the way right now: Colony Grill is essentially an Irish bar that serves pizza. In a county with an estimated 450 pizza joints, are we really advocating that you should eat bar-style pies from a pub? Yes. Absolutely. Right away. Specifically, we want you to get a hot-oil pie (adding sausage wouldn’t be a bad idea), a cracker-thin pizza that’s caramelized around the edges, covered end-to-end with a dimpled layer of cheese that hits just the right level of greasy, and practically screams for a pitcher of beer.
The pie is famous. So famous that countless media outlets — New York Magazine, First We Feast, The Daily Meal, and Serious Eats, among others — have sung the praises of the Stamford original. But it wasn’t always that way. “Our brand dates to 1935, to an Irish immigrant neighborhood in Stamford, affectionately known as ‘The Colony,’” says co-owner and operator Ken Martin. “The original owners, all of whom were Irish-Americans, employed some Italian and Eastern European chefs who proudly wanted patrons to taste the pizza from their homelands.”
Every Colony Grill has a “Wall of Heroes,” showcasing photos of servicemen in uniform, a nod to the tavern’s WWII-era origins.
The Stamford original has since spawned three more locations across Connecticut, but the Byram River-fronting Port Chester location will be the first to take the brand out of state. “All five locations are intentionally familiar to provide a consistent experience,” says Martin, noting that the Port Chester location will have the benefit of outdoor seating. “Colony Grill remains a link to our heritage and to a time in America filled with sacrifice and service, as a generation braced for World War II.” As such, every location sets aside space for a “Wall of Heroes,” which displays photos to honor “those who have served in uniform — either at home or abroad — as first responders or members of the United States Armed Forces,” says Martin. In Port Chester, the walls will also display photos and memorabilia sourced from the town’s library and historical society.
The menu is short and to the point: Just 12-inch pizzas (it’s not that hard to knock one back on your own) with toppings like chunks of sausage, stinger peppers, giant pepperoni, onions, and mushrooms. On weekends there’s a bacon, egg, and cheese pie until mid-afternoon.
No matter what toppings you choose, you cannot come to the Colony Grill without trying the hot-oil pie. “The secret is, alas, secret,” muses Martin. “But our signature hot-oil topping has be synonymous with Colony Grill for the past 80 years.”
Will Colony Grill become a Westchester institution like it has in Connecticut? We’ll have to wait and see, but Martin is excited to bring his pies to the community. “There are so many great towns in Westchester, but we kept coming back to Port Chester because it has such a magnetic mixture of entertainment, food, people, and vibrancy,” he says. “We look forward to becoming a thread in the community fabric.”
35 Abendroth Ave