All words by Elsie Yang
If there’s a measure of culinary diversity across the United States, it may just come in the form of the many different variations upon the staple of distinctly American comfort food — the pizza. From Chicago deep dish to New York style slices to New Haven apizza, options abound when it comes to these savory pies, and of course, so do arguments around the best pizza of them all.
And while it’s difficult to present a definitive answer to the debate, there are some pizza purveyors that have proven their mettle by withstanding the test of time (and the pandemic). And chief among them is Colony Grill, which has just opened a new location — it’s first outside of New York and Connecticut — in Arlington.
Known for its thin crust, the 85-year-old chain hasn’t changed much over the course of its existence. The menu is simple and without frills; you can get pizza, salad pizza, and a range of beverages. But with pizza this distinctive, you won’t want for much.
If you’re a fan of bready, carby pizzas, this isn’t the pie for you. Supremely thin and delightfully crisp, these so-called bar pies are served as 12-inch rounds cut into 6 manageable slices, and topped with a thin layer of cheese and sauce. Indeed, there’s almost a delicacy to this pizza; you won’t be overloaded with toppings or marinara or globs of cheese. But that isn’t to say that Colony Grill is skimping on the fixins’ — slices of onion, mushrooms, peppers, and anchovies practically littered my favorite pizza that I managed to try during my most recent visit, but they’re spread in such a way that you get a pretty even bite every time.
Fully customizable, Colony Grill offers a dozen toppings that you can mix and match at will for $1.75 (the base pizza is $9.95), but the most important topping is doubtless the signature hot oil, a spicy-chili infused olive oil. “Pair any of our toppings with our signature hot oil and it just makes the pizza that much better,” Ken Martin, co-owner of the restaurant told BYT. “My recent favorite is hot oil with light onion, cherry peppers and pepperoni.”
Opening a new storefront, especially in the midst of the pandemic, is never an easy decision, and it wasn’t one that the Colony Grill team took lightly. “The DMV is a unique and beautiful part of the country,” Martin told us. “We fell in love with it almost overnight upon our first visit down nearly three years ago. The population is eclectic, and there is great collective energy.” Combined with DC’s appreciation for al fresco dining, Martin said, the area “checked all the boxes.”
Thankfully, pizza is a pandemic-proof food. “Colony Grill and our people have fared well during the past very challenging seven months,” Martin noted. “We have not eliminated any leadership positions and have maintained full benefits for our team members. We have been able to weather the storm together, and believe there’s much opportunity for our company heading into 2021 and beyond.”
And with pizza like this, there’s plenty of opportunity for your taste buds, too.
Colony Grill is located at 2800 Clarendon Boulevard #850, Arlington VA