A classic cheese or margherita pizza is always great, but for National Pizza Month, we’re here to share some of Connecticut’s more outrageous pies — the more over-the-top, the better.
Across the state, we found a pizza to pair perfectly with steins of German beer, an upscale seafood feast atop a dough canvas, creative weekly collaboration specials dreamed up by two high-end chefs and an offbeat “pie” that melds two favorite Italian-American comfort foods.
At the 40-year mark, Willington Pizza, an eastern Connecticut favorite, is still innovating. In late September, the pizzeria introduced a new special: a pie with a garlic Parmesan sauce base, draped with thinly sliced pickles, mozzarella and a dusting of pickle spices ($12.50 for a small; $21 for a large.)
“People like it a lot,” said executive chef Rich Rogers, who’s been with the pizzeria for 29 years. He was there for the genesis of Willington’s now-famous seafood casino pie, with a lemon white sauce base and fresh scallops, shrimp and snow crab, finished with sharp cheddar, bacon and lemon wedges.
In 1994, Willington took home national Pizza Today Magazine awards for both the seafood casino ($14.95 small; $24.95 large) and its signature red potato pie ($13.50 small; $23.95 large), made with sour cream, sliced red potatoes, sharp cheddar cheese, chives and choice of bacon, broccoli or both.
“We’ve tried just about everything: meatloaf, Sloppy Joes; we have a lot more specials than what’s on the menu,” Rogers says.
Willington Pizza House is at 25 River Road in Willington. 860-429-7433; willingtonpizza.com. (Seafood casino is not available at Willington’s second location, Willington Pizza Too.)
Is it chicken Parmesan or is it pizza? At Foxwoods’ Caputo Trattoria, you don’t need to choose. The Caputo Pie ($49), a crisp-fried circle of breaded and seasoned ground chicken, is topped off with red sauce and a blend of cheeses, then drizzled with Calabrian chili-infused honey. The finished product is sliced into triangular pieces, like pizza slices.
Executive chef Gary LaMothe explained the process: Ground chicken is mixed into a mousse-type consistency, with fennel, Sicilian oregano, butter, egg white, parsley, salt, pepper, roasted garlic and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The chicken is spread thinly in a pan, then frozen overnight. The disc is then breaded, frozen again, deep-fried and then spread with tomato sauce and a blend of cheeses: provolone, mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano and romano. The cheeses are melted under the broiler, and the “pizza” is finished off with fresh Parmigiano, herbs and the hot honey.
“It had become kind of an Internet sensation,” LaMothe says. “We’d seen a few places that were attempting it; we wanted to certainly do it, and try and do it a little better.”
The Caputo Pie serves two to eight guests, and LaMothe says it’s a “great table share.”
Caputo Trattoria is in Foxwoods’ Grand Pequot Tower on the restaurant level. 860-312-2788, foxwoods.com/Caputo-Trattoria.
Prost! At Giovanni’s Brick Oven Pizza in Glastonbury, the Oktoberfest pie is its most popular seasonal special, says manager Brian Viccaro. The pizza starts with a sour cream sauce base, then it’s loaded with roasted garlic potatoes, sliced kielbasa, cheddar, mozzarella and red onion and finished with peppercorns.
Giovanni’s started making the fall favorite 10 years ago, and it appears annually from mid-September to the end of October. It’s available as a whole pie (small, $15.95, large $22.50, extra large $23.95) and also by the slice ($4.65), with more than a dozen daily options like eggplant balsamic, Hawaiian and Asian-inspired sesame chicken and stuffed slices like BBQ pork mac and cheese.
Viccaro says Giovanni’s enjoys experimenting with new pies, and has introduced other past seasonal offerings like pastrami Reuben and shrimp avocado.
“We keep coming with new stuff, and if people like it enough, we throw it on the regular menu,” he says.
Giovanni’s is at 113 Hebron Avenue in Glastonbury (860-633-0041) and at the Minnechaug Golf Course (860-791-2133.) giovannisbrickovenpizzeria.wordpress.com.
The big-ticket Ponsinella pie at Derby’s Roseland Apizza earns its $70 price tag from the sheer amount of seafood that sits atop its crust: a pound of lobster meat, another pound of large shrimp and six to eight sea scallops.
The pizza highlights the fresh seafood flavors with lemon, parsley and seasoned breadcrumbs made from its house bread, scattered atop the crust. Roseland modifies its traditional thin crust for this pie, engineering a thicker and sturdier base to support all the shellfish.
Roseland has been a multi-generational Derby fixture since the mid-1930s, but the decadent seafood pie is a newer addition, originating in about 1987, said John Lucarelli, whose parents Lina and Nazzareno co-founded the restaurant. His nephew, Eddy Larsen, describes it as a special occasion item that guests order for birthdays and anniversaries, but Roseland will still sell 15 to 30 on weekends.
Roseland Apizza is at 350 Hawthorne Ave. in Derby. 203-735-0494.
Bar Olmo Pizza
The Tuesday-night collaborations between New Haven culinary powerhouses BAR and Caseus have produced such wild pizzas as chicken and waffles, Roquefort with duck confit and Philly roast pork with spinach and sharp provolone.
Now, as Caseus prepares to become Olmo later this fall, the new restaurant’s chef-owners Craig Hutchinson and Alex Lishchynsky have taken over the weekly joint venture, offering pies ($18 to $24) like Nashville hot chicken with pickle brine and marinated feta, an “avocado toast” creation with chevre and lemon, a “Boston Beef” pie with roast beef, barbecue sauce, mayo, cheddar cheese sauce and fried onions; and a recent carb-on-carb spaghetti and meatball special, which Bar described on Instagram as “one of the best BAR + @olmokitchen pizzas of all time.”
Upcoming BAR/Olmo pizzas include “New England clam chowder” on Oct. 30, carnitas with chocolate mole, queso fresco and cilantro on Nov. 13; and “Vietnamese” with coconut braised oxtail, sticky rice, spicy beans and fried garlic on Nov. 20.