Milford Green Pizza undaunted by incoming pizza shop

With a family-style restaurant that offers more than just pizza, the owners of the new Milford Green Pizza and Restaurant downtown said they aren’t worried about the fact that Colony Grill plans to open just a few doors away from them, bringing another pizza restaurant to Broad Street.

Manager Jeff Wood said instead of feeling put out that Colony Grill announced it’s moving into the old Harrison Hardware building just weeks after Milford Green Pizza opened, he and the owners welcome the new business.

“Anything that brings people to the green is great for the community, and business,” Wood said.

Colony Grill, which will be the fourth Colony Grill in Connecticut, is known for its single menu item: Described as a “one-of-a-kind, one-size, thin-crust pizza — with or without its signature hot oil — served simply.” Colony Grill owners describe the restaurant as having a “tavern-like setting,” and while drinks vary at the different locations, the Milford site will serve food and drinks until “late closing,” a restaurant press release states.

Wood said Milford Green Pizza and Restaurant expects to cater to a different crowd, offering family-style dinners and a variety of menu items and wine and beer choices.

“We feel confident we can maintain our course,” Wood said.

That course has been steady, he said, since the restaurant opened rather quietly six weeks ago.

Jack and Joanna Goncalves opened the business in the building that used to house Peter Pan Pizza. Joanna’s father owns the building, and Jack and Joanna rented an apartment over the business about 20 years ago.

So when the two Fairfield-based small-business owners decided they wanted a new venture, they settled on the vacant eatery in a building they knew well, and counted on their cultural cuisine experiences and business knowledge to create a new restaurant on Broad Street.

“He’s Portuguese and she’s Italian, so you’ll see an infusion of Portuguese and Italian dishes here,” Wood said.

Of course pizza is a menu offering, and Wood described it as a thin-crust variety typical of the New Haven area. One of the signature pies is the Europa, which features Portuguese linguica sausage and onion. Prices are reasonable, Wood said, pointing out that the signature pie costs $15.95.

The motto here is “more than just great pizza,” however, and the menu, which will soon be expanded to include more Portuguese and Italian offerings, proves that.

Entrees include chicken marsala, chicken picatta, pork saltimbocca, New York strip, oven roasted salmon, and more. It’s all served in a totally renovated space, much different than the former Peter Pan Pizza. Interior brick walls carry an Italian look, and outdoor seating right on Broad Street adds a bit of European flair.

“We wanted a restaurant where people could get a variety of quality dishes,” Wood said. “And things have been going pretty well, even though we just had a soft opening and haven’t really advertised yet. We get people walking by and stopping in, and we’ve already had repeat customers. You can come in here in a business suit, or you can come in shorts and sandals, and feel comfortable. “

The location is perfect, not only because the owners know it so well but because of the assortment of eateries downtown, from SBC to Stonebridge, the Seven Seas and several others.

The new Milford Green Pizza and Restaurant is family owned and run, as Wood’s wife is Joanna’s cousin.

“We were talking about doing this for a while, and it’s a great and proven location,” Wood said. “We think we can enhance that.”

The restaurant opened quietly, hiring and training wait staff, and plans to start marketing next month and then hold a formal opening, just in time to roll out the new expanded menu. Jack Goncalves said the new menu will differentiate it even more from the other restaurants in the area.

Milford Green Pizza and Restaurant, at 12 Broad Street, opens at 11 a.m. Monday to Saturday, and stays open late Friday and Saturday.

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