When I was a student at Cornell, Wings Over Ithaca was a staple. As I’ve spoken to more people over the years from various universities, I’ve learned that my experience was not unique. “Wings Over” locations span the country, often setting up shop in college towns. With Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University, Fairfield seems like a logical fit.
The latest “Wings Over” location can be found out 2075 Black Rock Turnpike, a space Robert Savin, owner, had his eye on for a couple of years. “Wings Over” is a national franchise broken up into smaller sections. Savin and his company, Savin Foods, is responsible for 10 “Wings Over” locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Savin also oversees Park & Oak in West Hartford.
“I’ve wanted to come to Fairfield for a while,” says Savin, owner. “There are 3 schools within 5 or 6 miles.”
Although I have fond memories of “Wings Over,” I last tasted it over a decade ago (I’m dating myself). I had the chance to revisit their eats and try out the Fairfield rendition at their launch party in early August.
The entire menu has an airplane hangar theme, with wing sizes designated with names like “DC-3, DC-10, Skymaster, and Concorde.” The trope pays homage to the “Wings” element of the franchise. Diners can choose from boneless wings in increments that range from ½ pound to 6 pounds. Regular wings are available by the piece, with options like the “Puddle Jumper,” 10 wings, and the F-16, 15 wings. Patrons can customize their orders with over 20 rubs and sauces such as Kickin’ Bar-B-Que, Teriyaki, Hot Cajun Blackened, Honey Bar-B-Que, and Sweet Onion Bar-B-Que. Those with a high threshold for spice may even elect for the Red Alert, Jet Fuel, or Afterburner offerings.
While I would have loved to order one of everything, we opted for the F-16 size of regular wings. This can be split into up to 3 flavors, and we decided on Kickin’ Bar-B-Que, Spicy Teriyaki, and Citrus Chipotle. The result was good old saucy, savory, drippy, tender chicken wings. They are not gourmet, refined, or the wings you might find in a pub; they are the chicken wings you crave when it’s been a long day (or night!) or you just need the perfect comfort food.
Of the wings we tried, the Kickin’ Bar-B-Que was my favorite. It hovered between a sauce and a rub, less dressed and crispier than the other two. The heat was present but not too aggressive, making it easy to eat but spicy nonetheless. The Citrus Chipotle placed right behind that. It was clearly a saucy style, with thick, savory liquid dripping from the chicken. At first it tasted sweet and a touch tart from the citrus. The finish, however, was piquant and left touches of heat in my mouth. The Spicy Teriyaki was also saucy. Though I liked this one, I mainly detected teriyaki. I would have enjoyed more fire in a flavor leading with the word “Spicy.”
As a side, we selected Waffle Fries at the recommendation of a fellow party-goer. They arrive plain or finished with Cajun, Mesquite, Garlic Parmesan, or Ranch seasonings. Those with an affinity for cheese can choose to add melted cheese as well. The Mesquite waffle fries, a cross between Cajun and Southern BBQ, were a great accompaniment to the wings.
Though the fries were popular, my husband and I actually preferred the Wings Over Fairfield onion rings. They were perfectly crispy on the outside. The batter coated the onion enough to achieve the ideal texture, but was thin enough to let the delicious onion flavor come through in all its glory. I also enjoyed how the onion seemed to complete the sweet and savory components in the wings we ordered. Other side dishes on the menu include Macaroni Salad, regular French Fries, and Cole Slaw.
“Here- to prove we have more than just fried things!” declared VP of Operations, Adam Fletcher, as he unveiled a grilled chicken sandwich and a Caesar salad.
It’s true: Wings Over Fairfield does offer more than wings. Their ribs are still savory, but provide an alternative to chicken. They are fall-of-the-bone tender. An assortment of salads and sandwiches also appear on the menu. Those wanting a classic American dish can even opt for a burger. The grilled chicken was prepared well, though I, of course, would go for Wings Over Fairfield’s signature wings when tasked with making a choice!
For beverages, Wings Over Fairfield prides themselves on their milkshakes. Diners can pick traditional flavors like Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Salted Caramel, and Coffee, or upgrade to a “premium” Milkshake. Those varieties include Vanilla Latte, Caramel Macchiato, Mocha, Toffee, Root Beer Float, and Orange Cream Bar.
Wings Over Fairfield does have seating for those who may want to eat-in. The tables are adorned with a centerpiece of paper towels- something we did not notice at first, but were happy to discover when licking our fingers mid-wing. At the same time, like the other “Wings” franchises, the majority of business will come from deliveries.
“Our business will most likely be 55-75% delivery,” noted Fletcher. Currently, they are available for both eat-in and deliver on Sunday from 11am-12am, Monday and Tuesday from 4pm-12am, Wednesday and Thursday from 11am-12am, and Friday and Saturday from 11am-1am. Delivery does result in a $2.25 delivery charge separate from the tip.
“The UConn location is open until 3am,” Fletcher says. “We’re feeling it out here and will see how it goes.”
Online ordering is available at www.wingoverfairfield.com.
“We are very excited for the future,” Savin told me. From the looks of it, others are too- I have never seen a dozen or so people eat so much wings (and fries and onion rings and ribs!)
Wings Over Fairfield 2075 Black Rock Turnpike Fairfield (203) 334-9464