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Sunday
Dec182011

Hope Pizza in Stamford: Best Greek Pizza in Western CT?

"Gooey," that's what my late great mother craved in her pizza, and this woman loved food more than any person I've ever known. ("Don't talk to me," she would admonish. "I'm eating."}

Well, Mom would have devoured the pizza at Stamford's Hope Pizza, maybe the best of the thirty some Greek pizzerias hidden throughout Fairfield County. What makes Greek pizza gooey is what distinguishes it from the more heralded Connecticut Italian pizzas. Bearing no New Haven char, Colony heat, Batali chic, much less any passionate defenders or detractors in the food press or blogosphere, Greek Pizza flourishes under the radar, boasting few fancy frills, though, admittedly, more oil.

Panos Triantafyllos, who along with his younger brother George, runs Hope Pizza, told us that the goo comes from two sources: the cheddar they blend with mozzie for the cheese topping and the oil which they lightly coat onto the pans so that the crust won't cling to the metal. Unlike Italian pizzas, Greek pies are not fired on bricks, but pan baked at 600 degrees in a standard oven. 

That's not the only difference. In contrast to Neapolitan thin or cracker crust, the Greek shell has a slightly thicker, but less dense texture, surrounded by a raised edge. "We keep the dough warm so the yeast can do its work," Panos explains, "After it rises, that's when we hand roll it into the pan. You don't throw the dough like the Italian style." Unlike other Greek pizzerias, Hope’s cooks don’t use a roller machine, but stretch the dough out with their fingers.  Panos demonstrates, his fingers spreading the imaginary dough like he was enlarging a picture on an Ipad.

The result is an amazingly airy, yet crisp, biscuit crust, which stands up to the cheese and myriad toppings on the menu. Rather than serve triangular slices, Hope cuts their large pies in squares. We ask if that's because the crust doesn't fold.  Panos shakes his head. "Tradition," he says.

Indeed. Greek Pizza has been part of the region's “fork lore” for generations, a style almost exclusively found in the broad swath from Boston to New York. Because of this regionality, the unique pizza has earned the label of "New England" Greek and it’s not found much in other parts of the country.  In northern Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Greek pizzerias often bear the name "House of Pizza" – code words that signify to locals that they won't find thin crust brick fired pies inside.

Hope's own lineage goes back two generations, A mainstay of the working class neighborhood of Glenbrook, northeast of downtown Stamford, it was founded by Panos and George's immigrant parents back in 1979 and is still at the same location, but twice as big. When you enter the clean, brightly lit restaurant, with its ample booths and tables, it's easy to mistake the pizzeria for a large, bustling Greek Diner. Families abound, and the menu carries a load of typical diner fare: gyros, grinders, salads, and hamburger hamburgers. But look around the tables; the star of the show is the pizza, sitting center stage on raised platform trays. Not only is every table taken, but long lines snake out the corridor waiting for take out. (Panos claims Greek pizza travels better than Italian because the crust doesn't get as soggy from the steam.)

One of non-pizza specialties of the house is Chicken Rice soup, made from the family's secret recipe. Hope Pizza is also known for their oversize and delicious salads. "For lunch," Panos says, "a nice salad or soup instead of a pizza, that's what many of our customers like."

But for dinner, pizza reigns supreme. An assortment of over 35 toppings is listed on the menu, and choices range from pepperoni to pineapple. Many regulars recommend a "well done" pizza, so that the cheese bakes into the perimeter crust. However, I prefer the regular, because the shorter baking time brandishes a golden finish to the crust and the cheese. 

Seeking a classic Greek pizza like you might find in Athens? The Triantafyllos boys will substitute feta cheese, stud the pie with imported Kalamata olives, and top it all off with authentic souvlaki. Order a cheap carafe of white, red, or rose, and Kalí óreksi, bon appetite, My Big Fat Greek Pizza.

OK, Hope isn't Tarry Lodge, Frank Pepe, or Colony.  No renowned pizzas here.  But rumor has it that Greek Pizza is a secret addiction of many, including someone on the CTBites team who loves food almost as much as my mom.  

Hope Pizza 230 Hope Street Stamford, CT 203 325 3660

Hope Pizza Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Reader Comments (12)

I really dig this place. It has loads of charm, the salads are doused in a simple dressing with a slab of feta and armed with my managed expectations of what greek pizza is and isn't, I still found it surprisingly good.

December 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Kundrat

Hope Pizza was my favorite pizza when I lived in Stamford 15 years ago...still the same...I remember walking there from Glenbrook train station during a huge snow storm when my car was snowed in and they were OPEN!
Hot pizza, great salad and best service!

December 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterellen bowen

Before my wife introduced me to real pizza (code-speak for Sally's) in the early 80's, Greek-style was all I knew and loved. I enjoyed Hope Pizza pretty regularly when my office was in Stamford and also really liked both the flavors and the memories. Extra napkins were always required (that's a good thing) and watching the dance of the pizzas transferred from the oven to the boxes was fun to watch (is that mine?).

But I have to post one for us old-timer traditionalist pizza lovers. Seeing broccoli on a pizza still makes me shake my head. Sausage, peppers, meatballs, 'roni, onions, etc. now that feels right; Broccoli, Buffalo Chicken, pineapple, not so much. :-)

December 19, 2011 | Registered CommenterJeff "jfood" Schlesinger

I grew up eating Greek pizza in Worcester. (New Haven style was a whole different animal to me when I moved here.) And I think there's some truth to Sam Sifton's "pizza cognition theory," because I find something comforting about that thicker crust and perfectly round shape. The pie pictured above even looks a little too thin-crust as compared to my memories.

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeeanne

Note that the pizza pictured is triangle cut. That's cuz it's a small, personal pizza. The large Pizza at Hope St. is square cut. I agree with the brocolli comment... salad stuff doesn't work with goo.

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterstamfoodie

I know better than to be judgemental about anything in life. But the words "Best" and "Greek pizza" simply do not exist in the same sentence in my reality.

I abhor Greek/Italian food opting for the yummy, delicious, belly warming Italian/Italian food - actually for a Polish girl, I could eat Italian/Italian 24 x 7. Over the weekend, I enjoyed my Holiday favorite cannoli cake!

That being said, the comments for this little place seems lovely, so if I'm ever in the neighborhood, perhaps I will venture in one day.

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaster of Light Chick

Greek pizza make no sense. It's like Chinese sushi. The Greeks should stick to stuffed grape leaves.
Leave the pizza to the Italians.

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfoodieonline

I LOVE Greek style pizza and Hope Street is one of my favorites!

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarb

Okay, I have to be honest here; I'm a big fan of Greek pizza and I grew up in Stamford. Unfortunately, I can't agree that Hope Street Pizza has the best Greek pizza in Stamford, let alone Fairfield County. That honor belongs to Pappas Pizza, also in Stamford.

Now, to be fair, after reading this article this morning, I went to Hope St Pizza for lunch today (it is my birthday, after all...). The pizza wasn't bad, but it's still not as good as Pappas. Hope St. does have excellent salads (try the tossed with Souvlaki chicken and gorgonzola), and great gyros and souvlakis, but their pizza's just not as good as Pappas.

I'm a Colony first, Pappas second kind of guy.

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScapegrace

I love Hope St. Pizza! It's the go-to lunch spot for my coworkers when we want to go out as a group; the great thing is, it's easy to spend less than $8 each on a very satisfying meal.

To those who doubt the broccoli: try the veggie pizza (broccoli, eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, et al.) with a side of blue cheese dressing. It will change your mind, if not your life.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMegan McDermott

These days I rarely get a chance to go out but when I do, my family almost always votes for Hope Pizza. Their salad is so freakin' good! I practically drink that salad dressing. I don't think you can fool yourself into thinking you are "just getting a salad" but it is worth every calorie.

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjudy roll

About "leaving pizza to Italians"...Most theories point to Naples as the birthplace of pizza, but few acknowledge that the city itself was founded by the Greeks as an early colony and hotbed of Greek influence & culture throughout antiquity (and food is obviously a major part of culture). I mean nothing more than to say that what we now know as pizza is an evolved form of something that originated in place where delineation between Greek and Italian was largely irrelevant. Of course pizza is predominately associated with Italy, but realistically, both countries have been producing the stuff for over 2,500 years.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteryum

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