Press Club

Connecticut Pizza Restaurant Sets Mid-October Opening Date for New Clarendon Outpost

(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Colony Grill, a pizza restaurant imported from Connecticut and noted for its use of “hot oil” on its pies, is two weeks away from opening.

A spokeswoman for the chain, beloved in the Constitution State, says Colony Grill is now set to open on Wednesday, Oct. 14.

The 85-year-old restaurant brand with working-class, Irish-American roots decided to open in Arlington — at 2800 Clarendon Blvd, within the Market Common Clarendon development — after scouting out “dozens of cities and states.”

The two-level, 5,100 square foot restaurant will feature decor that includes “curated elements that celebrate the history of Arlington.” For safety during the pandemic, it also will have glass partitions between all booths and “a strict check platform for its all employees.”

Colony Grill will open daily from 11:30 a.m. until “late closing,” according to a press release. In addition to the famous pizza, with its pepper-infused oil, the restaurant will offer “12 beer selections on draft, with an emphasis on local breweries.”

Is Arlington hungry for pizza that’s popular in bedroom communities north of New York City? Perhaps. But a restaurant serving the local pizza of another Connecticut city along I-95 — Pete’s New Haven Apizza — closed last year, one block away from the new pizzeria.

More from the press release:

Colony Grill, an 85-year-old restaurant brand known for its family-friendly tavern settings, gracious hospitality, and famous “hot oil” bar-style pizzas, has announced a mid-October opening for its newest location, at 2800 Clarendon Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia 22201.

“Everyone at Colony Grill is extremely excited,” said Ken Martin, the company’s chief operating officer. “During our search, we travelled to dozens of cities and states and we just kept coming back to the greater Arlington area. We absolutely fell in love. It is simply a remarkable part of the country with diverse people who together celebrate their community and enjoy gathering for life’s special moments. We look forward to introducing our unique pizza to the neighborhood and becoming a part of that community fabric for years to come.”

The 5,100-square-foot space will be open daily, from 11:30 a.m. until late closing, offering seating for 170 diners in three distinct areas: 80 in the first-floor dining room, 50 in the bar/lounge, and 50 on the mezzanine level.

In 1935, Colony Grill opened in an Irish immigrant neighborhood in Stamford, Connecticut. Since then, Colony Grill has become famous for what is now its only menu offering: a one-of-a-kind, thin-crust pizza that is best served with its signature “hot oil” topping – a spicy, full-of-flavor, pepper-infused creation which can be ordered with any other combination of toppings.

The original owners of Colony Grill were Irish American, but they employed Italian and Eastern European chefs throughout the Great Depression. These men proudly wanted bar patrons to try the pizza recipes of their homelands but needed a way to fit a pizza tray on Colony Grill’s narrow bar top. The solution: the “Bar Pie,” a thin crust pizza that is smaller in diameter than a traditional pizza with a thin layer of cheese and sauce so slices can be easily managed with one hand. The local Irish crowd — and anyone else who visited Colony Grill — seemingly could not get enough of this unique pizza. Eventually, across the decades, the hot oil bar pie became so popular that all the other Colony menu items faded away, as did the need for a grill. But the name Colony Grill remains as a link to their heritage.

In 2020, Colony Grill was named one of “56 Greatest Old-School Pizzeria’s in America” by The Daily Meal and has consistently been named one of the “Top 101 Pizzas in America” by TripAdvisor.

Pricing for Colony Grill’s pies will range from $9.50 to $12.95 with options for adding additional toppings or gluten-free crust. A Salad Pie will also available for guests and includes Colony Grill’s signature crust baked with a touch of olive oil and sea salt, topped with hearty mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots, tossed with balsamic vinaigrette. Breakfast lovers will appreciate the restaurant’s Breakfast Pie available exclusively on Saturdays and Sundays, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., which features a choice of bacon or sausage, egg, and cheese.

To complement the menu, guests will find 12 beer selections on draft, with an emphasis on local breweries. Prices will range from $3 to $8 for beers on draft or by the bottle. Wines will be available by the glass, priced from $6 to $10, and by the bottle from $25 to $45. The restaurant will accommodate large pick-up orders on short notice and large delivery orders will also available at no additional charge for local businesses and residences of Arlington. All major credit cards will be accepted, and the restaurant can be reached by calling (703) 682-8300 or visiting  Col ony Grill has also recently invested in an online app so guests can utilize contact-less payment in the restaurant and for carry-out orders.

All Colony Grill locations showcase a Wall of Heroes featuring portraits of veterans and first responders. These photographs are submitted by guests to honor the WWII history of the original Connecticut location. Arlington patrons will be encouraged to submit 8 by 10-inch photos of friends, family members or themselves, in their branch of the military uniform, to be added to the collection installed for public viewing.

The restaurant’s overall design palette blurs the line between “going out and coming home.” Colony Grill is meant to be a place of comfort, a “third place” for a diversity of generations to enjoy fine company and award-winning pizza. The design will also integrate curated elements that celebrate the history of Arlington, Virginia. Local antique pieces will be placed throughout the restaurant. Guests can anticipate a warm, natural materials including brick walls, hardwood floors and hand-painted signage.

For decades, Colony Grill has helped create a foundation of safety for its employees and guests, which includes this harrowing time of COVID-19. Specifically, in 2020, the company has addressed some present concerns by investing nearly $100,000 to help create peace of mind and added safety at each location. Colony Grill installed glass partitions between all booths, which will be included in the design scheme in Arlington and implemented a strict check platform for its all employees, powered by the Harri online platform.

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