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Little City Pizza Takes Its Popular Menu To A Bigger Spot

There’s more of Little City Pizza to love, now in a new ZIP code.

The popular pizzeria, which spent 15 years in the Simsbury Town Shops, has relocated to Avon. In late March, owner Will Kokines reopened Little City in the Riverdale Farms shopping complex, in the restaurant space previously occupied by The Local Grill, Trattoria Il Trullo and Papacelle.

“I always loved Riverdale Farms,” Kokines says, noting that he’d previously worked for Harry’s Big Tomato Pizza in the development (now home to Ekkalak Thai.) While he was re-negotiating his lease in Simsbury, he decided to see what else was available for potential locations.

Once he saw the Avon building, “I fell in love with it. The space is beautiful. I know it was a risk to move, I know we’d put 15 years [into] something that was working, but I feel this is going to work better in the long run. And I just love being here.”

The Riverdale Farms restaurant, with a large dining room, bar area and patio, has doubled the seating of the Simsbury original, with capacity for about 170 guests. Framed comics on the walls reflect Simsbury’s old comic-book motif, along with blown-up photographs of graffiti hanging along the dining room’s brick walls.

The menu remains largely the same as Little City’s staff adjusts to its increased capacity. The pizzeria has built a reputation on thin-crust pies, with roasted tomato sauce, hand-cut vegetables, housemade sausage and meatballs and other fresh ingredients.

Specialty pizzas have stemmed from kitchen experimentation, like the Super Margherita spiced up with soppressata, cherry peppers and Kalamata olives. The Smashed Potato is a nod to the classic at Bar in New Haven, Kokines says, with his own addition of roasted corn and pancetta. A barbecue chicken pie with housemade sauce hit the menu after Little City catered a wedding, when Kokines found himself with too much leftover barbecue sauce and put it on a crust.

The “Little City” eponymous pizza is a favorite, with grilled chicken, melted leeks, roasted garlic spread and fontina and Romano cheeses. A roasted veggie pie features eggplant, squash, zucchini, garlic and red pepper; and a spinach pie is the restaurant’s take on spanakopita, with spicy spinach, feta, Kalamata olive and Romano, wrapped in pizza dough. Pizzas start at $11.50 for a small mozzarella and go up to $19.50 for large specialty pies.

Other menu options include appetizers like fried calamari, a Mediterranean platter and garlic asiago bruschetta; several salads, a burger, panini and cheesesteak and roasted veggie “pockets” ($4.95 to $8.95.) Little City will also soon start selling cupcakes from Oakville’s Hardcore Sweet Bakery.

Kokines says he wants to offer more rotating specials (a buffalo cauliflower pizza and an apricot and goat cheese salad appeared as limited-time offers recently) and possibly add new items to complement the new bar area, like cheese and charcuterie platters. The bar features eight beer taps, heavy on Connecticut breweries like Kent Falls, Beer’d, City Steam, Hooker and Counter Weight, and Kokines would also like to boost the wine list.

The move over town lines, almost 5 miles away, wasn’t welcome news to all of Little City’s customers: “There’s a convenience factor, and I get it,” he says. “We loved being in the center of Simsbury. But we’ve seen a lot of familiar faces coming here, and a lot of positive comments.”

He hopes to introduce Little City to Avon-based customers who may not have had the pizza in its Simsbury days, and would also like to continue the restaurant’s tradition of sponsoring local youth sports teams.

“That was my dream, a pizza place with great pizza and a lot of community involvement,” he says.

The move and its potential has rejuvenated Kokines’ passion for the restaurant industry, after about 30 years in the business.

“It’s kind of sparked something again. Fifteen years in the same place, it was great, but this is just … wow, this is fun again. I’m enjoying it.”

Little City Pizza is at 152 Simsbury Road (Building 4) in Avon. It’s open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 4 to 9 p.m. 860-658-4001 and littlecitypizzaco.com.

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