The jury is still out on why exactly the monetization of nostalgia in contemporary American culture is so prevalent. But it’s everywhere, to be sure. The glory days are on full display at PizzaCo, a new pizza place in Stratford that taps into the design of mid-century American car and road culture. Situated in a resurrected gas station, the design very consciously echoes a time when gas stations were pinnacles of a newly emerging American aesthetic, when going to the gas station was 35 cents a gallon and our social associations were more with the joy of a Sunday drive than the despair of the Monday commute.
This particular spot is yards away from exit 31 on I-95, across from the Two Roads Brewing Co. (which has in recent years become a top destination in this part of Connecticut). The pizza is pretty good, too. It might seem a brave move to open a new pizza place in a region which famously takes its pizza as serious as southern Connecticut, but co-owners Jordan Bochanis and Declan Mahar are confident in their pies, both in ingredients and preparation. Their distinctive oven, which at 800 degrees cooks pizzas in about two minutes, is built with bricks imported from Italy. “We wanted to stay true to the Neapolitan style, but put a spin on Neapolitan. So we wanted that dome-type oven,” Mahar says. They have trademarked the name “garage fired” for their type of pizza. When told that this writer did not understand the term, Mahar says, “Neither do we, but it sounds f-----g cool!”
1625 Stratford Ave., Stratford; 203-612-7520
Hours: Tue.-Thu. 4:30-11 p.m., Fri. noon-11:30 p.m., Sat. 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Closed Mon.
Mahar and Bochanis, who grew up together in the West End of Bridgeport, say their pizza is between Brooklyn and New Haven, obviously geographically but also conceptually. One of their pies is called the scamotz ($12), which the owners say is a particularly Bridgeport style of pizza, with a specific type of Italian cheese called “scamorza” from Calabro Cheese Corp. of East Haven. It has a strong, pungent flavor, almost reminiscent of Parmesan. It’s definitely one to try for the cheese lovers and pizza connoisseurs out there.
The pizzas are all personal size, with prices ranging from $12-$15. There are also seasonal specialties, including a turkey and stuffing pizza around Thanksgiving. Weekends feature brunch pizza, including toppings such as bacon, egg and cheese on the Pedal to the Metal ($12), and smoked salmon, mascarpone, red onion and capers on the Everything Bagel pizza ($14). You can also have pizza for dessert. The Lug Nutt includes Nutella, powdered sugar and drizzled chocolate sauce, while the Camp-Fired features melted semi-sweet chocolate, mini marshmallows and crumbled graham crackers. Both pies are $10.
In addition to the pizzas, a range of salads and a pair of meatball dishes round out the menu. The meatballs come from the family recipe of chef and Italy native Fabio Gallo. Remember how gas stations used to have car service? Well, if you go to Two Roads for a couple of beers, PizzaCo will deliver a pizza straight to your barstool.
The beer goes in the other direction, too, as PizzaCo regularly has as many as 50 different varieties available, most of them microbrews.
This article appeared in the January 2018 issue of Connecticut Magazine.
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