Joey’s Pizza Pie may be the new little brother of a trio of restaurants in a growing chain, but it would be a mistake to say that it’s simply a scaled-back version of Joey Garlic’s of Farmington and Newington.
Yes, the menu of Joey’s Pizza Pie, located in the building formerly occupied by Barb’s Pizza at 353 Park Road, is less extensive than those of its two larger brethren. For example, there isn’t enough space at Joey’s Pizza Pie to offer the popular milkshakes served at Joey Garlic’s.
But the signature dishes are all there: the eggplant fries topped with parmesan cheese served with a side of marinara dip, the half-pound burgers with myriad toppings, the New Haven-style pizzas (well done, thin crust) and house-made potato chips.
And they all come in Flintstone-like portions for which the Joey’s chain has become famous.
“You have to tell me how you make money; I got way too much food,” patron Tom Pentalow told Gary Gello, one of the restaurant’s three co-owners, during a dress rehearsal on Thursday evening.
The restaurant doesn’t open to the public until Monday, July 11, but the dress rehearsal was an opportunity for the staff to cook new items, determine proper portions, break in the new wait staff and test out the equipment.
Just because it’s the smallest of the three restaurants doesn’t make Joey’s Pizza Pie the runt of the litter, however.
Indeed, the new kid on the block also features a few things not served at the two other locations, most notably the chef-inspired “New American” sandwiches, which are the brainchildren of co-owner Nick Romano.
The Louie Prima, for example, is a buckle-your-knees good creation featuring 12-hour, slow-roasted beef, gorgonzola dulce, provolone, tomatoes, fried eggs and horseradish sauce.
For vegetarians, there is the Sicilian Panella sandwich, featuring chickpea fritters topped with whipped ricotta, roasted peppers and lemon tahini dressing on a sweet potato roll.
“We’re looking to provide good value for the money; everything is fresh and virtually everything is made from scratch,” said co-owner Anthony Sullo. “We want people to have a good meal at a good price in a good atmosphere.”
Sullo said that he and his two partners chose West Hartford because “[It’s] a great family town that’s great for businesses and great for restaurants.
“We hunted around Bishops Corner and West Hartford Center. When we heard about this place, we decided to do it a little bit smaller, but also a little bit different.”
While the menu did not have prices fixed just yet, Sullo said that they will be in line with Joey Garlic’s with burgers running about $8.99, with certain toppings costing extra, and pizzas in the range of $14.99 to $19.99.
Sullo said that the new Joey’s will also offer three desserts, which will most likely be cannoli, tiramisu and bread pudding, though that is subject to change.
There is also a children’s menu available.
“So far we’ve taken it real slow,” Sullo said. “We didn’t want to overdo it in the beginning.”
And how did the restaurant do during its dress rehearsal?
Proof, as they say is in the pudding, or, in this case, the penne a la vodka.
“It’s awesome,” said Hallie Westcott, a Manchester photographer who was happily consuming an order of eggplant fries with daughters Isabella and Sarah. “It’s very different than what you’d get at your average pizza restaurant. It’s much more upscale.”
A party of six men, seen devouring plates of Korean chicken wings, calamari and fresh mozzarella, also gave its collective thumbs up.
“We want to try everything on the menu,” Hartford’s Lou Frasca said. “We’re coming back.”
“And the beer is cold,” Manny Reis, seated next to Frasca, chimed in. “Don’t forget that.”