Last week I had a chance to make a short business trip to Hartford, arriving Monday and leaving on Wednesday. The trip gave me a chance to see Chris and Amy (ayersian) for the first time since the Buffalo Roadfood tour in September. It was also the first time I was able to have some thin New Haven style pizza since my last visit to Hartford in April. For someone who has just recently been introduced to the joys of New Haven style pizza, those seven months without the pizza have seemed like an eternity.
The first night the three of us went to a place in Worcester, MA: the Corner Grille (www.cornergrille.com
). It is a small storefront place located in a neighborhood, and it has drawn its customers via word of mouth. Those who find it are in for a memorable experience. What is amazing about the pizzas is how thin they are without drooping under the weight of the toppings, and yet the topics are not skimpy to avoid overloading the pizza. You would think that the slices would collapse under the strain of the toppings, but not so.
The Corner Grille is definitely my type of pizza place:
The pizza below has two separate offerings: the left side is the Buffalo (wing) pizza, with hot sauce, chicken, blue cheese, and celery. On the right is the sweet basil and tomato pizza, with red sauce, tomatoes, fresh basil, and cheese:
The Buffalo pizza was very spicy but not overwhelmingly so, and the celery added the same cooling effect that it does when you eat chicken wings. The basic tomato pizza was stunning in its simplicity and its outstanding flavor. It is a basic pizza but not plain in the sense of being ordinary.
On the left below is the Greek pizza, with baby spinach, garlic, oregano, lemon, diced tomatoes, and cheese. The right side has the harvest moon pizza, with brown sugar, butternut squash, onions, sausage, toasted pumpkin seeds, and brown butter drizzle.
I did not have any of the Greek pizza, but Chris and Amy pronounced it to be quite good. I did eat some of the harvest moon pizza and found it very unusual, even after taking the onions off (not a fan of onions). It made a good dessert. I believe this pizza is marked as seasonal, but they keep it on the menu because of demand.
Corner Grille also has a selection of salads and sandwich wraps, and they are just as varied and unusual as the pizza choices. At the register they stock whoopie pies and other desserts if you have the room, although it's hard to eat more after taking on the pizza.
Raena, the owner, spent some time visiting with us. She is very energetic and enthusiastic and has a zeal for producing good food. I am sure that she would be glad to visit with anyone who comes in and mentions Roadfood, as she recognized Chris and Amy as "those Roadfood people" (in a good way).
The next night Chris and I made a pilgrimage to Pepe's in Manchester, CT, where I first was introduced to New Haven pizza. Chris mentioned that Michael Stern had recommended a new pizza, shrimp pizza. I have never had this kind before, but having really enjoyed the white clam pizza, we gave it a try. Below are some pictures of that pizza:
The shrimp was as good as any I have had not on a pizza, and the cheese and crust made a very good combination. I would never have thought of shrimp pizza, but it is something I would eat again.
We also ordered a sausage pizza:
The sausage was in nice circles with enough mass to make them chewy but not too thick to overwhelm the pizza. Both pizzas had the charred edges characteristic of New Haven style pizza. Like the pizzas in Worcester, the crust was thin but well able to support the weight of the toppings.
All in all, another enjoyable trip. Looking forward to a longer trip after the first of the year where I can visit other places that I have not been to lately or at all. I'd start the list now but might run out of room (and start jonesing for some steamed burgers).