Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Life of Pie

A Ridgefield pizza adventure



Wood-fired Truffle Sunny Side Pizza from 850 Degrees

Photo by Scott Mullin

Ridgefield currently boasts an incredible ten pizzerias. Ten pizzerias, scattered like pepperoni around our quiet little town! 

“Nobody doesn’t like pizza,” says Maria Gardell, whose family owns John’s Best Pizza on Route 7. Okay, I get that. But ten—why?

My taste buds and I set out to slice into it, and I have now eaten at every last pizza place in Ridgefield. So, who’s king of crusts, tops in toppings? Hang on.

Any discussion of pizza in Ridgefield has to begin with the late lamented Roma Pizzeria, Ridgefield’s first real pizza joint, which opened in 1964 on Main Street—today the site of Planet Pizza. George Amatuzzi, then a kid of 20, acquired it with his partner Joe Gigliotti two years later. But it wasn’t just George’s pies that make Roma beloved to this day. “Make people feel welcome,” he says, “and they’ll love you.” They sure did.

George loved them back. He famously donated thousands of pies to local groups and events, and if you presented him an “A” on your report card, he’d present you with a free slice. I saw old-timers grow misty at the memory.

Not to say Roma introduced pizza to Ridgefield. Steve and Alice Carboni, Ridgefield teens in the ’60s, remember that you could get “bar pizza” at a long-gone pub called Mary’s. “It was pretty good,” Steve recalls. But, until Roma, “for ‘pizza’ pizza, you had to go to Danbury,” says Alice.

Roma’s real competition arrived in 1973, with Venice Restaurant & Pizza—now Ridgefield’s oldest existing pizzeria. Genoa Deli & Pizza arrived in ’82. For Greek-style pizza (pan-baked, chewier crust), there was Ridgefield Pizza Restaurant on Route 7. I remember the Venice vs. Roma vs. Genoa debates that raged among pizzaphiles when I arrived back in ’91. (Yeah, there was Pizza Hut, if you want to count it. I don’t.)

Most served what George Amatuzzi calls “regular pizza.” You know, the kind we grew up with—also called “New York style.” (And big, doughy rectangles of Sicilian, too, if that was your thing.) “You could feed a family for $10 back then,” Amatuzzi remembers.

“Regular pizza” still dominates in Ridgefield. “We’ve made the same recipe for 44 years,” says Joey Escobar, who took over Venice in ’94 with his brother, German, a chef there since ’90. “It’s tradition.”

Genoa’s Saverio DiArcangelo echoes that: “We make traditional pizza the traditional way.”

Dom Farago of Planet Pizza on Main Street cites family tradition going back to the 1970s. Maria Gardell of John’s Best says her family’s seven restaurants use the recipe created by her father when he opened their first location in 1962. “Tradition!” she exclaims. (Photo left: Grandma from Planet Pizza)

But hold on, Tevye. This is Ridgefield, where people will pay for trendy. Larry Debany, the original owner of Village Pizza and current proprietor of 850 Degrees Wood Fired Pizza, offers his pies in ultra-thin crust, wood-fired, brick-oven, and gluten-free, serving it up with a helping of live music and atmosphere—outdoors on the cobblestone piazza on summer nights. Piccolo Pizza & Pasta wood-fires its pizza, too.

But if you really want to leave “regular pizza” behind, drop in to Bruno DiFabio’s Romolo Gastro-Pizza, located downstairs behind his Village Tavern on Main Street. The six-time world pizza champion (yes, it’s a thing) is a virtual doctor of pizza sciences. Take just yeast, for example. Eschewing the dry variety, he hunted down the yeast-bearing dew hidden in the cup of a plant high in Italy’s Dolomite mountains. For the past  five years, he’s extend that yeast, like sourdough, and its progeny raise every pie he serves. And don’t get him started on flour. (Photo below right: Totti from Romolo Gastro-Pizza)

If pizza-ology interests you, you might also check out Pizza It Yourself (PIY—get it?). Pizza-loving Ridgefielders Ed and Grace Winstanley hit on the idea of bringing the Blue-Apron approach to pie-making. They’ll drop off the hardware and ingredients, and you serve as your own pizzaolo. It sounded ridiculous, until I tried it. It was ridiculously easy and ridiculously good.

But, still, can ten pizza shops thrive in a town of 25,000? Despite appearances, Ridgefield is not actually over-pizza’d. With four pizzerias per 10,000 people, we’re not too far ahead of the state average of 3.6. And according to the the US Department of Agriculture, one in eight Americans eats pizza on any given day. That’s more than 3,000 pizza-eaters a day in Ridgefield alone!

Still, you want to know which one is best, right? I wouldn’t touch that one with a ten-foot pizza paddle (which is called a “peel,” by the way). I’m a pizza-lover, not a food critic—and besides, “best pizza” is nothing but an argument starter. (I’ll be happy to argue with you in person.)

All of the owners I talked to prided themselves on their fresh ingredients, and every slice I sampled was good at the very least (except one, which recalled the bowling-alley pie of my youth). More importantly, they were all different—in taste, texture, style, and seasoning. There was something new and worthwhile in each pizza shop.

Friends, with ten pizzerias, and many more restaurants serving up some version of flatbread, this is Ridgefield’s Golden Age of Pizza. If you’re habituating the same joint all the time, pie after pie, it’s time to bite into something new.

Ever tried a ziti-topped slice, or a vodka chicken pie, or crust made with eggs? It’s out there. And variety, so they say, is—or should be—the slice of life.


WEDGE ISSUE “Pizza tastes best when you eat it right away,” says George Amatuzzi, who fed generations of Ridgefielders at his Roma Pizzeria. Edmar Candido of Piccolo agrees: “It’s not the same when you reheat it.” Skip the warmed-over slice, order a whole pie. Someone will share it with you.


Try their signature pies:

850 Degrees Wood Fired Restaurant
424 Main St.
Burrata  Prosciutto

Genoa Deli & Pizza
113 Danbury Rd.
Genoa Special

John’s Best Pizza
955 Ethan Allen Hwy. 
The Romano

Lions Bleeker Street Pizza
103 Danbury Rd.
Grandma’s Recipe

Piccolo Pizza & Pasta
24 Prospect St.
Margherita

Planet Pizza
411 Main St.
Grandma Pizza 

Romolo Gastro-Pizza
378 Main St. (rear)
Nonna Romana

Venice Restaurant & Pizza
125 Danbury Rd.
Venice Special

Village Pizza & Pasta
113 Danbury Rd.
Fresh Mozzarella

West Lane Pizza & Deli
127 West La.

Pizza It Yourself
pizzapiy.com

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

            

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

TownVibe Green Awards 2018

Face Value

Rediscovering local community in the digital age

Ridgefield Out & About - Apr/May/June

Art: When the King Comes to Town

Special screening with the director of "Elvis Presley: The Searcher" –– May 24

Tiger's Eye

Tiger's Den Bar & Grill serves popular comfort-foods with an occasional twist

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

April 2018

Saturday, April 21 through Tuesday, April 24 Wilton Library’s Annual Gigantic Spring Book Sale Fundraiser Wilton Library’s largest book sale features more than 70,000 items sorted in...

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road, Wilton
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Telephone: 203-762-3950
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists presents its juried small group exhibition "2-1-2" in the main gallery, opening Saturday, April 21 with a reception from 4-6pm. It is free and open to...

Cost: 0

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Earth Day with The Wildlife Line FREE admission ~ You’re invited, to come and celebrate ( : Sunday April 22nd, from 11-4, at beautiful Harrybrooke Park, in New Milford, CT. Live...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Harrybrooke Park
100 Still River Drive
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Harrybrooke Park
Telephone: 860-799-6520
Contact Name: Billy Buckbee
Website »

More information

Registration Closes: Friday, April 13th Jenna graduated from F.I.T with a degree in Fashion Design. She started her career working for the high-end Accessory Brand, Isabella Fiore and later moved...

Cost: $155.00

Where:
DayDreamer Studio
@ The Yellow Monkey Antiques
792 Route 35
Cross River, NY  10518
View map »


Sponsor: DayDreamer Studio
Telephone: 914-977-4243
Contact Name: Nicole Mata
Website »

More information

​NEWDAA, the North East Westchester Domestic Abuse Alliance, hosts its annual Interfaith Service this year in Katonah.  Join community members, local clergy and government representatives...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Katonah United Methodist Church
5 Bedford Road
Katonah, NY
View map »


Sponsor: NEWDAA
Telephone: 203-356-5405
Contact Name: Patti D'Agostino
Website »

More information

By donating your perennials, pots and planters to the library to be resold, you will be minimizing waste and giving your unwanted perennials, pots and planters a second life. When spring arrives...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-274-7206
Contact Name: Cynthia
Website »

More information

ENTRY DEADLINE: February 24, 2018 The area’s hottest musical competition known as BandJam 2018 will bring eight high-octane bands to compete at The Ridgefield Playhouse!  A panel of...

Cost: $20

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 EAST RIDGE ROAD
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Saturday, April 21 through Tuesday, April 24 Wilton Library’s Annual Gigantic Spring Book Sale Fundraiser Wilton Library’s largest book sale features more than 70,000 items sorted in...

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road, Wilton
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Telephone: 203-762-3950
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists presents its juried small group exhibition "2-1-2" in the main gallery, opening Saturday, April 21 with a reception from 4-6pm. It is free and open to...

Cost: 0

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

By donating your perennials, pots and planters to the library to be resold, you will be minimizing waste and giving your unwanted perennials, pots and planters a second life. When spring arrives...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-274-7206
Contact Name: Cynthia
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Saturday, April 21 through Tuesday, April 24 Wilton Library’s Annual Gigantic Spring Book Sale Fundraiser Wilton Library’s largest book sale features more than 70,000 items sorted in...

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road, Wilton
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Telephone: 203-762-3950
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists presents its juried small group exhibition "2-1-2" in the main gallery, opening Saturday, April 21 with a reception from 4-6pm. It is free and open to...

Cost: 0

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn about building structures resistant to earthquakes with toothpicks and marshmallows Tuesday, April 24th from 4-5 PM For kids in grade 1-3 Registration is required To register,...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

By donating your perennials, pots and planters to the library to be resold, you will be minimizing waste and giving your unwanted perennials, pots and planters a second life. When spring arrives...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-274-7206
Contact Name: Cynthia
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On Wednesday April 25 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. join us for a leisurely stroll down our stream-side trail in memory of one of our founding Board members, Helen Hermes, to discover some of her...

Cost: FREE

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists presents its juried small group exhibition "2-1-2" in the main gallery, opening Saturday, April 21 with a reception from 4-6pm. It is free and open to...

Cost: 0

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Come see Edith+Eddie, a 2018 Academy Award® nominated best documentary short film, followed by a panel discussion of esteemed experts in the fields of estate...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Ferguson Library
One Public Library Plaza
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Sponsor: SilverSource, Inc.
Telephone: 203-324-6584
Contact Name: Kathleen Bordelon
Website »

More information

By donating your perennials, pots and planters to the library to be resold, you will be minimizing waste and giving your unwanted perennials, pots and planters a second life. When spring arrives...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-274-7206
Contact Name: Cynthia
Website »

More information

Join Grace Farms Foundation and New Canaan Library for an insightful conversation about global policy and America’s potential for growth and leadership with retired United States Army General...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grace Farms
365 Lukes Wood Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Grace Farms Foundation & New Canaan Library
Telephone: 203-920-1720
Contact Name: Regan Hayes
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ridgefield Guild of Artists presents its juried small group exhibition "2-1-2" in the main gallery, opening Saturday, April 21 with a reception from 4-6pm. It is free and open to...

Cost: 0

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

By donating your perennials, pots and planters to the library to be resold, you will be minimizing waste and giving your unwanted perennials, pots and planters a second life. When spring arrives...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-274-7206
Contact Name: Cynthia
Website »

More information

Thursday April 26, 6-9PM Gallo Ristorante, 5 Grove Street, Ridgefield Guest Bartenders from the Ridgefield Rotary Club: Robert Herber, Rainer Gonet, Kristina Kelly,  Ralph...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gallo Restaurant
5 Grove St.
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Telephone: 203-431-7726
Website »

More information

EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ridgefield Guild of Artists presents its juried small group exhibition "2-1-2" in the main gallery, opening Saturday, April 21 with a reception from 4-6pm. It is free and open to...

Cost: 0

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

By donating your perennials, pots and planters to the library to be resold, you will be minimizing waste and giving your unwanted perennials, pots and planters a second life. When spring arrives...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-274-7206
Contact Name: Cynthia
Website »

More information

Music on the Hill  celebrates "Music of Scandinavia" in a concert combining the Festival Chorus and professional Chamber Chorus, led by Artistic Director David H. Connell....

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Presbyterian Church
48 New Canaan Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Music on the Hill
Website »

More information

Ages: K-5 Registration Closes: Wednesday, April 25th In this workshop, Lil’ Dreamers will have a ton of fun learning marbling techniques while creating their own unique papers.  Each artist...

Cost: $30.00

Where:
DayDreamer Studio
@ The Yellow Monkey Antiques
792 Route 35
Cross River, NY  10518
View map »


Sponsor: DayDreamer Studio
Telephone: 914-977-4243
Contact Name: Nicole Mata
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On Saturday April 28 from 10 – 11 a.m. veteran fly-tier New Pond Farm Program Director Tim Laughlin, would like to introduce you to the art of fly tying. Learn to tie a “Woolly...

Cost: $15 per New Pond Farm member child, $20 per non-member child

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

More information

Norwalk Now Presents a City-Wide Adventure NORWALK CITY HUNT Saturday, April 28, Meet-up 10:30 AM, Hunt 11 AM-1 PM, After Party 1-3 PM Norwalk Now presents Norwalk City Hunt, an...

Cost: $40

Where:
93 N Main St
norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Now
Telephone: 203-561-9878
Contact Name: Linda Kavanagh
Website »

More information

Learn how you can transform your yard into an outdoor living OASIS! Vendors of the latest and greatest outdoor living products will be onsite Saturday, April 28th at Ridgefield Supply to answer...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Ridgefield Supply
29 Prospect Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877-0519
View map »


Telephone: 203-438-2626
Contact Name: Krystal Lugo
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists presents its juried small group exhibition "2-1-2" in the main gallery, opening Saturday, April 21 with a reception from 4-6pm. It is free and open to...

Cost: 0

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

“Glorious,” raved the New York Times when Joyce DiDonato sang the title role of Cendrillon at the Royal Opera in 2011. “Her performance was thoroughly...

Cost: $25

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 EAST RIDGE
RIDGEFIELD, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

On Saturday April 28 from 1 – 2 p.m. join New Pond Farm Program Director, Tim Laughlin, and learn how to fly cast. Fly-fishing is becoming a very popular sport for ladies. Once you learn the...

Cost: $15 per New Pond Farm member and $20 per non-member

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

More information

Saturday, April 28th at 3:00 Rated PG Open to everyone, no registration required For questions, please call the library at 914-669-5161 or email at keelerlibrary@wlsmail.org To learn...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

The Ridgefield Library's 2018 Great Expectations Gala will honor The Couri Family - John and Elaine Couri and Chris and Megan Couri with the Hope H. Swenson Visionary Award for their many...

Cost: $250

Where:
Ridgefield Library
472 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Library
Telephone: 203-438-2282 X11029
Contact Name: Laureen Bubniak
Website »

More information

By donating your perennials, pots and planters to the library to be resold, you will be minimizing waste and giving your unwanted perennials, pots and planters a second life. When spring arrives...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-274-7206
Contact Name: Cynthia
Website »

More information

Livingston Taylor is part of musical royalty – with James Taylor as his brother and Ben Taylor as his nephew, Livingston lives up to the Taylor name and more! From Top-40 Hits: “I Will...

Cost: $75

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 EAST RIDGE ROAD
RIDGEFIELD, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County to Honor Margaret Keane at Benefit Concert Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) will honor Synchrony Financial CEO...

Cost: $55

Where:
Palace Theatre
61 Atlantic Street
Stamford, CT  06901
View map »


Sponsor: Children's Learning Centers of Fairfield County
Telephone: 203-653-1369
Contact Name: Mike
Website »

More information

Ability Beyond's signature annual black-tie “Masquerade Gala" fundraiser seeks to unmask the ability in everyone. The elegant evening will feature both...

Cost: Individual tickets are $250

Where:
Amber Room Colonnade
1 Stacey Rd
Danbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Ability Beyond
Telephone: 203-826-3183
Contact Name: Kelsey Rondeau
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags