Aug 10, 2011
10:59 AM
Café Connecticut

Pizza War Breaks Out in Stamford

 

            In New Haven, Pepe’s has been the gold standard. In Stamford, it’s been Colony Grill. Just off Exit 8 of I-95 on Myrtle Avenue (opposite direction from the Stamford Town Center), the pizza joint on the city’s west side has been the gold standard for thin-crust-pizza aficionados since who-knows-when (it opened in 1935). Even road-food savants Jane and Michael Stern rhapsodized about the hot-oil pies. We loved them too, didn’t mind the brusqueness of the waitresses (part of Colony’s character, we told ourselves), or the fact that the menu was limited (one-size plain or slightly gussied-up pizza, with made-across-the-street sausage the most popular add-on, and beer and soft drinks), or the fact that they were cash-only and didn’t deliver. We tried to overlook the limited street parking and park-at-your-own-risk lot.

            But then along came Rico’s—and fireworks. In June Stamford’s Rico Imbrogno opened Rico’s Pizza, also on the west side but off Exit 6 on Selleck Street, with the help of Walter and Jonathan Martinez, both former Colony employees. And guess what? Local pizza lovers say Rico’s pies are virtually the same as Colony’s, plus Rico’s offers a wider menu, i.e., you can order a salad to go with that (still one-size) pizza, even a wedge or a wrap but no beer—just sodas or water, the staff is pleasant, they accept credit cards and deliver in Stamford, and parking is easier (though you’re better off having it delivered at night). Apparently, Colony owners Gary James and Jim Screws (they’re brothers) think it’s so similar that they issued a cease-and-desist order and are threatening to sue, alleging Rico et al have stolen their secret recipe.

            We checked out Rico’s recently and agree with the consensus—the pies are very similar. Still, Rico’s is tiny (six tables—hence, they deliver), clean and new (too new?), and lacks the grimy, surly character of the Colony we’ve come to accept, though not love.

            What to do? Perhaps get back on the road and check out the Colony-approved franchise, opened in Fairfield last year by a group led by former New York Rangers captain Chris Drury. That might break the virtual tie. Or maybe go back to the Colony and see if all this brouhaha has given them some religion.

           Just one thing, Colony Grill and Rico’s: Please, don’t let this thing get ugly.  Remember, competition is the American way. There’s room enough for two in the city.     

            Want to do your own research? Start at (203) 359-2184 or colonygrill.com and (203) 674-8970 or ricospizzaonline.com.

               

 
Pizza War Breaks Out in Stamford

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