above: A specialty pizza at Fortina’s
Looking for the best pizza in Stamford? Whether you prefer a New York-style pie, or a slice of New Haven’s finest, these pizza restaurants in Stamford should be the first spots you stop.
On a night where you just don’t feel like cooking or have too many mouths to feed, this pizza spot around the corner becomes the go-to. For the Springdale neighborhood, Belltown Pizzeria has been a fan-favorite with its fresh pizza and robust menu of Italian classics like chicken parm wedges, hearty calzones, pasta dishes like baked ziti and much more.
Opened in 1994 by two brothers, Tony and Benny Califano from Ponzo, Italy, Belltown has built up somewhat of a cult-following by offering delicious meals, from scratch; a taste of heritage in an eclectic, diverse community. The Belltown torch has since passed to Benny’s son, Michael Califano, who remains committed to cooking up the best pizza in Stamford, as well as authentic Italian foods, “like the ones your grandmother used to make.”
When you hear from locals, buzz words like “consistency” and “reliable” are said a lot. Every slice or whole pizza comes out fresh out the oven; its crisp and perfectly bendable slices make for the perfect fold every time. Personalize your pizza to fit your needs or try one of their gourmet pies like the Salad Pizza, or, for a taste of the real deal, Benny’s Favorite—a sauceless pie with tomatoes, roasted peppers, spinach, garlic and oil, fresh basil, grated romano cheese, mozzarella and artichokes.
While the pizza is of the New York style, there’s also something uniquely Stamford about it. The story of two brothers with a passion for cooking and the bond it creates in a community is one of the reasons, “the city that works,” is a success. Next time you visit Belltown, let it serve as a reminder that good food doesn’t have to be complicated. belltownpizzastamford.com
“Growing up, every Tuesday was a holiday. We gathered a dozen family and friends to enjoy dishes that were passed onto us from generations before. Many of those recipes you’ll find on our menu today. When we moved into the Belltown neighborhood nearly 30 years ago, it was the surrounding community that welcomed us as family. In return, we served our product with love. I believe it is that same passion that keeps us open today.”
— MICHAEL CALIFANO, Owner of Belltown Pizzeria
Bronx House Amore
With six-time Pizza World Pizza Champion and Food Network judge Bruno DiFabio at the helm of Bronx House in Springdale, it’s no surprise this knockout makes the list of must-try pizzas. After starting off making dough some 25 years ago at the original Amore restaurant on Hope Street, DiFabio has since revitalized that location and opened Bronx House as a second spot for his pizza prowess to shine. With its exposed brick, red booths, long counters with full views of pizza flipping and steady flow of patrons awaiting their name call, Bronx House is a throwback to a classic New York pizza joint. Devoid of fuss, its pies are really able to take center stage. Visitors can expect the quality and authenticity of Amore Cucina & Bar, but with key differences. While Amore primarily focuses on its Napoletana style in a more posh backdrop, Bronx House offers New York style pizza in a casual, laid-back setting.
Bronx House offers three sizes, which can be ordered as a whole pie or by the slice. Steer into the red theme with the chicken parmigiana pizza, or skip out on sauce entirely with the Popeye White—a white topped with spinach (of course), garlic and ricotta. Because it wouldn’t be authentically Italian without a tribute to an Italian matriarch, the Grandma pie is where you get your fix of hearty ingredients with a lot of love put into it. The Luca Brasi, a nod to The Godfather, topped with broccoli rabe, sausage, garlic, romano and red pepper flakes, is truly to die for (he had it coming to ‘em). bronxhousect.com
“It’s not only about sourcing superior ingredients, you also have to use them in the optimal way to get the best tasting pizza. We use a mother dough in our pizza production and this yields a final product that is crispy, airy, and delicious. Our cheese is made from milk harvested daily, and has a five star rating from the dairy board of Wisconsin. We have truly mastered New York and Neapolitan pizza respectively, you really have to experience it for yourself.”
— BRUNO DIFABIO, Owner/Master Pizzaiolo Bronx House Pizza/ Amore Cucina & Bar
How does an eclectic city like Stamford build community? Food as a labor of love comes to mind. We choose “the spot” that tugs at our heartstrings (and our appetites)—a gathering place where families, friends and strangers share good food and great ambiance.
Since 2008, Coalhouse Pizza on High Ridge Road has been that place. With its blues/jazz theme reminiscent of an old-school speakeasy, handcrafted pizzas with 48 varieties available as well as a build-your-own options and a mahogany whiskey bar that holds the largest selection of craft beers on tap anywhere in the state—Coalhouse doesn’t leave you hangin’.
Few places can compete with the thoughtfulness that goes into Coalhouse’s signature coal fired pizza. From the Neapolitan style dough made with just four simple ingredients, to its mozzarella cheese made in-house from fresh curd generously sprinkled on top, to the out-of-this-world ovens—seriously, the floor of the oven is built with the same materials that were used to launch the U.S. space shuttle.
Iconic jazz phraseology and song titles adorn the walls serving as a guide to its pizza selection. Heavy hitters include the Mustang Sally, topped with tomato sauce incorporated with hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, aged parmesan, smoked habanero hot oil and basil; as well as the Got My Mojo Workin’—a nuanced BBQ style pie with the sauce made in-house and topped with mozzarella, cheddar, beef brisket and pickled onions. In addition to making your own, all pizzas have the option of gluten-free dough, as well as vegan mozzarella.
While it’s hard to pass up on paying Coalhouse a visit with its live music nights, club memberships and private event spaces, you can also bring the fun (and funk) home with you by booking a pizza truck or trailer, BBQ smoker and bar car. coalhousepizza.com
“Pll great food begins with high quality ingredients and a passion for what you are doing. Our Neapolitan style dough, made with 00 Caputo flour, is cold fermented for a minimum of three days. This gives the crust a crispy exterior and a soft airy interior. This spring we are excited to be launching a daily coffee and breakfast menu, as well as our new Texas BBQ menu. In addition to our pizza truck, we are launching two new pizza trailers, two new mobile BBQ smokers and two new antique bar cars. These will bring Coalhouse right to your door!.”
— GERARD ROBERTSON, Owner of Coalhouse Pizza
As far as Stamford institutions go, Colony Grill is up there with some of the best pizza spots not just in the city, but across the country. One might expect such notoriety to exist only at an Italian pizza restaurant, but Colony Grill is actually rooted in Irish tradition. When it opened as a post-Prohibition tavern 1935, Colony Grill resembled your standard Irish pub in what was then a predominantly Irish neighborhood. As World War II ended, the area and Colony’s kitchen staff began to diversify, with Italian and Eastern European chefs experimenting with recipes from their homelands. Soon pizza came into the mix; the concept being how to fit a pizza tray on its narrow bar top (without the beer and booze getting knocked over).
The result: its signature style “bar pie,” a thin-crust pizza best served with spicy-yet-satisfying “hot oil” topping, which has had a firm grip on locals and out-of-towners ever since. Pay a visit to Colony Grill and you enveloped in history—both in its classic booths and bar seating seemingly untouched by time, but also by the faces of military veterans and memorabilia that adorns its, “Wall of Heroes.”
This tribute even extends to visitors who can submit photos of their loved ones in uniform for public view.
As indicative of the pizza’s star factor, that is the only item on the menu at Colony Grill—and yes, you always order your own pie. With many toppings options plus specialty pizzas like the corned beef and cabbage pizza sold only on, you guessed it, St. Patrick’s Day, you won’t miss out on apps. colonygrill.com
“Once upon a time, watering holes dotting the Northeast sought how to fit pizza trays on narrow bar tops. The solution: the “bar pie” extremely thin crust, smaller in diameter than a traditional pizza, and not too much cheese or sauce so that slices can be easily managed with one hand, fittingly leaving the other hand free to hold a glass. Eventually, the spicy and full-of-flavor hot oil version at Stamford’s Colony Grill became so popular that all other menu items faded away, as did the need for a grill. But the name Colony Grill remains a link to its nearly 90-year heritage.”
— KEN MARTIN, co-owner of Colony Grill
It’s more than likely that at some point in your life you’ve been to a pizza party. A visit to Fortina (fortinapizza.com) seizes that vibe and raises it up a notch (or twelve) as waitstaff can be seen standing on top of tables, banging the same San Marzano tomato cans that serve as pizza stands for its award-winning pizzas…oh, while also giving patrons free shots. Depending on when you go, that’s not always the case. Fortina is actually very family-friendly. But with special offerings like Blackout Brunch, a tequila-filled visit by Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul and themed events year-round—this pizza spot delivers both fun and flavor.
Carrying over its lively New York reputation, Fortina opened its Stamford location in 2015 after its success in Westchester county. When you enter, you are greeted by an industrial-but-homey three-level space, enhanced by its Millennial-mix playlist, creative art displays, warm-wood banquet tables, plus a rooftop bar with views of Harbor Point.
The menu is packed with hearty pastas and Instagram-worthy fried meatballs, but pizza is where the restaurant’s heart lies. Diners can watch the pizza-making in action—with full views of the open kitchen sat atop a perched tier, with a long Chef’s table illuminated by the glow of the wood-fired ovens behind them. The pizza is crispier than your average Neapolitan-style, with one of the most popular pizzas on the menu being the Luigi Bianco—a creative food canvas painted with burrata, robiolona, parm and black truffle.
Though you are encouraged to check it out in person, you can also bring some of the best pizza in Stamford home by booking Fortina’s mobile pizza oven: two personal pizza chefs for up to two hours.
“Fortina represents Italian culture, combined with the love of rustic, wholesome, seasonal cooking. Our pizza is cooked in wood-burning ovens and while you can expect to see the classics, like our margherita, marinara and Famous Ray’s, you’ll also find some surprises and twists, like the LB, made with burrata and black truffle and the Tenderoni, which features pepperoni and calabrian chili-honey. Our Stamford location is unique and spacious, with an expansive bar, seating in the dining room and mezzanine and both a patio and rooftop that are open when weather permits. When you step foot inside the restaurant, you become part of the Fortina family and we hope you feel the love in every bite.”
— EMILY GLENN, Director of Social Media and Marketing for Fortina Pizza
The Original Pappa’s Pizza Downtown Stamford
At the Original Pappa’s Pizza, personal is their specialty. Since 1960, Pappa’s and its first location on Main Street has been the place for small, Greek-style pizzas. Opened in 1958 as a hot dog and burger place, the Pappadopoulos started making pizza a few years later when Filimon Sgouris, a Greek-immigrant who worked for the family, inspired the venture. In 1971, Sgouris and his wife Audrey purchased Pappa’s and passed the torch to their daughter Sue and her husband, Harry Zopoumidis. In keeping with family tradition, the recipes are the same and its original owners immortalized in its legacy.
Pappa’s pizza style is unlike anything else in town. Its signature Greek pizza is thicker than your average New York slice, but thinner than a Sicilian or Chicago style and cooked in a metal pan rather than baked on the floor of the pizza oven. This creates a flaky, crunchy crust, with a soft doughy texture inside. While the classic cheese pizza remains top tier among locals, try the Grecian—topped with spinach, feta cheese and fresh garlic. Whether you’re enjoying a slice between sets of Alive @ 5 on a summer night or taking home boxes for Monday Night Football, Pappa’s remains one of the most time-honored pizza places in the city. pappaspizzastamford.com
“Serving the downtown Stamford Community since 1960, still family owned and operated, serving our famous 10” pizza pies for pick up and heat a serve at home, the secret is in the sauce and love that goes into every single pie. Pappa and Mamma will always be remembered by the love they had for family & loyalty of there customers.”
— SIA SGOURIS, Owner of Pappas Pizza
Highly regarded as the, “pizza capital of the world,” New Haven has been a frequent haunt for Stamford’s pizza pundits who are happy to share their partisan opinions on which famous spot (you know which ones) is, “the best.” Luckily for Stamford locals, the search for New Haven’s best no longer entails a $25 dollar gas charge. World-famous Sally’s Apizza opened its first location outside of New Haven on Summer Street in 2021. The news was about as big as Jersey Shore’s DJ Pauly D headlining the Hey Stamford! Festival, with patrons waiting hours to get a taste of the iconic pie.
The original Sally’s was opened in 1938 by Salvatore “Sally” Consiglio, nephew of Frank Pepe, owner of the notable pizzeria down the street. Sally’s boasts its distinctive “apizz” (*insert finger purse gesture*) style pizza—thin-crust and baked in a custom-designed, coal-fired brick oven which gives the crust a sooty, smoky, flavor. True to its roots, the Stamford location employs the same unique ovens that “Sal” designed back when he started.
The 4,000 sq. foot location next to the AMC Majestic features the original Sally’s signature red and white brick pattern in view of bustling downtown. Its characteristic honey wood paneled interior pays tribute to its flagship—with paintings and memorabilia commemorating Sally’s past as a favored hangout for superstars such as Frank Sinatra and The Rolling Stones. Visitors are welcome to dine inside in the mezzanine, the double height bar dining area, as well as al fresco with its floor to ceiling windows.
Though the classic Tomato and Mozzarella is a no-brainer for first timers, devoted fans should be enticed by the historic Tomato Pie—a deep-red pie with tomato sauce, oregano, olive oil and a light grating of Romano cheese. Another New Haven staple, the Original Clam Pie made with mozzerella, fresh clam, fresh garlic and parmesan, offers a bite like no other. While the addition of Sally’s to Stamford’s pizza roster might seem intimidating, restauranteurs across Stamford have resounded in favor of this addition—citing a, “the more the better,” mentality. sallysapizza.com
Sorrento Pizzeria & Restaurant
Take a trip down memory lane to when Italian restaurants dolled out paper place mats and a fresh bread basket the minute you sat down. That tradition stands at Sorrento Pizza, a High Ridge Road staple. Vittoria Uva and his wife Linda opened up shop in 1989, which has since been passed down their kids, Tony Uva and his sister, Rica Uva-DeBlasi. While the Uvas come from a tiny town near Naples called San Mango sul Calore, Sorrento was a favorite of Vittoria, the patriarch.
Tony Uva can be seen inside Sorrento impressively flipping dough and olive oil squeeze bottles and greeting customers with his signature, “how you doin’, good?” This little touch of hospitality doesn’t go unnoticed by customers, who have relied on Sorrento’s for quality pizza, salads, entrees and more. However, it’s Tony’s creativity in the kitchen that really leaves an impression. While most people come to personalize a classic New York pie, Sorrento has recently churned out new varieties such as Sicilian and Grandma style pies and specialty pies topped with hot honey. sorrentopizzastamford.weebly.com
“Eating at Sorrento is like eating at Nonna’s house on a Sunday afternoon. It is a place where memories are made, laughter is shared and you’ll feel like you’re right at home. We pride ourselves in using the freshest most high-quality ingredients which makes Tony’s Margherita pizza to die for! We consider our customers family and it warms our hearts to be able to serve multiple generations of families.”
— RICA UVA-DEBLASI, co-owner Sorrento Pizzeria & Restaurant
Table 104 Osteria & Bar
For a taste of Tuscany in a rustic-upscale setting, Table 104 Osteria and Bar offers authentic Italian comfort foods. At its heart, or rather its hearth, is the restaurant’s brick wood-fired pizza allowing patrons to take sight of the pizzaiolo in action. The pizza, lightly charred underneath with a chewy center, demonstrates how simple ingredients can become elevated when a restaurant pays attention to quality.
Since opening on High Ridge Road in 2015, this unassuming spot in North Stamford has become a not-so-hidden gem for those craving a quieter and refined Italian dining experience. In addition to its spacious and modern dining room, decorated with cozy wood interiors and hanging pendant lights, the enchanting outdoor patio, open in warmer months, and private lower level event space with its own private bar and fireplace means there’s a lot of different ambiances to choose from.
Table 104’s take on Roman-inspired cuisine with elements of the coastline incorporated into the menu is demonstrated in its robust selection of appetizers, pastas and entrees, as well as its artisan pizzas. The Original, made with mozzarella, plum tomato, basil and extra virgin olive oil, is simple-yet-effective and a gentle reminder than sometimes less is more. The Hell pizza, a spicy blend of sopressata, Calabrian long hots, San Marzano tomatoes and house made mozzarella, is, dare we say, heavenly. The Bufalae Polpettine, however, topped with cream of Bufala, wild mushrooms, meatballs, truffle and grana, really bears the legacy of the Tuscan region that Table 104 has embraced in its cuisine. table104stamford.com
“Table 104 focuses on delivering a smart casual atmosphere offering a sophisticated cuisine without taking away from the original idea of the Italian comfort food which inspired the creation of this unique restaurant. From our wood-burning pizza, pasta to seafood and specialty meats, we like to cater to a variety of guests. We strive to give excellent friendly service day in and day out so our guests feel the warmth of our staff that compliments our food.”
— WALTER CAPPELLI, Owner of Table 104 and Restauranteur
T’s Pizza Kitchen
Stamford’s South End has been transformed in the past decade with the reimagined Harbor Point putting this neighborhood on the map in terms of accessibility, culture and community. T’s Pizza Kitchen, which opened in 2015, lends old-school charm to your neighborhood wine bar—with three standout pizza styles that bring nostalgia and simplicity to focus. Boasting the mantra, “enter as strangers, leave as friends,” T’s Pizza Kitchen fosters that kind of humble hospitality for all occasions; whether a boozy brunch, a summertime vibe on the outside patio or an intimate night out in the newly expanded dining room. Because pizza is its own culinary category in and of itself, T’s features three different types: the classic New York round, its thick crust Sicilian and Nonna’s pan crust square pie. Each bite offers the outside crunch, the soft middle and exceptional quality you’d expect, with different toppings to fit whatever your pizza preferences are—consider it a love triangle.
Ever tried chicken francese on a pizza? For those debating between the entree or the pizza, this creative slice offers the best of both. From the New England pizza with clams that has become a uniquely Connecticut delicacy, to something simple like Nonna’s Margherita pizza, T’s also makes it affordable to try them all with 2 for $20 on all pizzas on “Takeout Tuesdays.”
Known for its neighborhood feel, T’s is also highly engaged with the community, participating in food festivals like Hey Stamford!’s, “That’s Amore” fest and the Stamford Police Department’s annual, “Night Out.”. For info on events and specials, follow Instagram @tswinebarkitchen. tswinebarkitchen.com
“Born and raised in Queens, NY, I started working in the food industry at 9 years old; slicing deli meat in my dad’s salumeria. Stamford’s Harbor Point became our home eleven years ago when we started offering a traditional New York slice with a cocktail. T’s got you covered on those family gatherings for pizza Friday’s with the Sicilian pizza—a nice, fluffy and flaky thick crust square pie enough to serve four, with an insane cheese pull. I love what I do and take pride in every slice.”
— TINO M. GIRESI, Owner of T’s Pizza Kitchen
Stamford is enigmatic: a town, for those who grew up here, and a city, for new transplants. With new restaurants and businesses popping up every day, one new Italian eatery hot off the presses, or we should say oven, is bringing a touch of old-Stamford back on Bank Street. Quartiere (pronounced kwa-ti-eeray), which opened in 2021, translates as ‘neighborhood’ in Italian, delights guests with a charming environment, kind hospitality and an elevated-casual dining experience.
Quartiere makes its own fresh pasta, on-site daily, with standout dishes like spicy vodka sauce rigatoni, spaghetti carbonara and bucatini amatriciana to really satisfy the carb cravings. All pizza is also made from scratch. Not quite Neopolitan-style, not quite New York, they prefer to call their pizzas ‘artisanal.’ The dough-making process follows old-world traditions; it’s a blend of imported Italian flours, fresh yeast, water and salt that proofs in an Italian mixer. With ten red pies and four white pies available, you’ll notice the quality in its golden-brown, chewy crust, topped with gourmet ingredients like stracciatella and truffle cream. In addition to many meat and seafood options, Italian shareable staples, crafty cocktails and an extensive wine list, they have quickly cemented themselves as a go-to. At ‘The Q’, “everyone leaves happy…” and full. thequartiere.com
“Simple ingredients don’t make it simple to execute our pizza. A blend of high quality Italian flours, fresh yeast, salt and water is all that’s in our base—no oils, sugars or additives. Proofed for 48 hours, stretched with care using a technique that nods toward the Neapolitan style of pizza we love. Our tomato sauce is just crushed and strained imported Italian tomatoes with some salt to bring out the flavor, our mozzarella is made in house. Simple ingredients, that we hope, is driving a complex flavor.”
— REY SANTOS
We are incredibly lucky to live in a pizza-centric city, with so many amazing places we couldn’t cover them all. Big shout-out to Riko’s and Hope Pizza, which we will feature in future. They’re well worth a visit. Did we miss your fave? Let us know at editorstamfordmag.com