30 July, 2012

Villa Milano Famous NY Pizza, East Hartford CT

Not too long ago, Maryanne read about a new pizzeria opening in East Hartford, called Villa Milano Famous NY Pizza. According to the article in the Hartford Courant, owners Eddie and John Kilenovic owned pizzerias in NYC and recently decided to move their businesses to Connecticut.  Over the past couple of days, we stopped in a few times to try out the various pizzas and other items.

Villa Milano is located at 456 Main Street in East Hartford. It's on the north-bound side of the street right across from the Coca-Cola Bottling Company's deco brick building.  Keep a sharp eye out as you approach, because the unassuming brick building can be kind of easy to miss.

The pizzeria offers both take-out and dine-in service. As you walk in the front door, there are a series of booths on the right, and a glass display case and service counter in front of the kitchen on the left. The display case usually shows off several of the delicious foods on offer - there are garlic knots and pizzas ready to sell by the slice.

Lynnafred loves Sicilian pizza, so on our first visit there we ordered a Sicilian Grandpa pie: thick, square crust topped with sauce, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil. It took about 20 minutes to come out of the kitchen (not a bad wait - pretty typical for a place that makes their pies fresh, actually.) We had ordered it to go, but the owner insisted on calling us over and presenting to us before boxing it up.  One look at it, and I could see why:

Look at that. That's not just a pizza, it's a work of art.  And it was also one of the best Sicilian pies we have ever had. The dough was just slightly crispy at the edges and on the bottom, but light and pillowy beneath the excellent sauce. Shredded mozzarella was sprinkled atop the sauce, and then the pieces of fresh mozzarella were added in decorative designs of stars, flowers, and stripes. Fresh basil leaves were sprinkled over the pie after it came from the oven, allowing the residual heat to wilt them into sauce and cheese. It was an awesome Sicilian pie, one like I haven't had in over twenty years, and this pizza resolved us to return to try out some of the other offerings.

On a later visit, Maryanne and I decided to sample slices of their standard thin-crust New York-style pizza, and the Roman Pie.

The Roman Pie, top right in the picture here, is a stuffed-crust pizza filled with potatoes, sausage, pepperoni, and cheese. I'd never had anything like it - it was very good, and quickly became one of Lynnafred's favorites.

The New York pizza was absolutely perfect - a hand-stretched water crust, perfectly crisped on the bottom with just the right amount of char, and yet maintaining the ideal amount of chewiness and tenderness combined.  Take a peek at the picture on the right. That's the color of a pizza crust the way it is meant to be. Just awesome.

We also ordered a meatball grinder and kept it simple with sauce, meatballs, and cheese on a 12-inch roll. It came out of the oven nicely toasted, crammed with eight huge handmade meatballs and dressed with tomato sauce and melted cheese. Maryanne and I cut it in half to share because it was more than enough for the both of us. The meatballs  were very much like the ones my Italian grandmother used to make, though she used to put Romano cheese in hers and Villa Milano doesn't. The texture was very good, and I wouldn't be surprised if they made their meatballs with a pork and beef blend.

One other thing: No trip to Villa Milano would be complete without an order of their garlic knots. They are absolutely stunning - little knots of the tenderest yeasty dough, baked up golden brown and delicious with melted butter and garlic. There are six knots in an order for two bucks. After our first time there, we've always made sure to get a double order to go. Most of them make it all the way home. The ones that don't get eaten right away reheat nicely in the toaster oven for a garlicy morning breakfast treat.

So: Villa Milano. Great place for authentic New York pizza without driving to New York.
456 Main Street
East Hartford, CT 06118

You can check out their menus here.

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