Updated: Mar 7, 2019
In my ongoing battle with internet marketing, I decided to give a Linkedin 'shout out' a shot, and see if I could get some restaurant suggestions, rather than do my own research. A fellow Reading High survivor (where I went to high school), Daniel Finigan, suggested Savoy Pizzeria in West Hartford Connecticut. Dan was a pretty chill and cool dude in high school, and I'm sure he has some pretty good insight- let's check it out! Me and Chris decided to try out Savoy on our next day off since Hartford's really only an hour away.
The drive from the Berkshires to Connecticut was so beautiful, the lush countryside, rolling hills, and miles of farmland; I always forget that we live so close to the Constitution State. It was immediately noticeable when we finally got into Hartford, all of a sudden the trees and farms vanished, roads widened, buildings grew tall, and a city emerged. We found ourselves right in the downtown city area and I found the perfect spot to park and I parallel parked my car like the city girl that I am (I'm very proud of my parallel parking skills). We walked through downtown for a bit before we found our stop, Savoy Pizzeria & Craft Bar.
Walking in one of the first things we noticed was how broad the customer demographics were. A group of old men were posted up at the bar talking politics, a young family sitting in a booth with their two young kids telling them to chew with their mouths closed, some businessmen in the center at a roundtable sharing a pizza- obviously on their lunch break on a cold April afternoon. And then there's us- a couple of borderline hipsters with a fancy camera and a cribbage board, looking famished from skipping breakfast that day (we rarely skip the most important meal of the day). The space looked so cozy, but not claustrophobic at all. The ceilings were tall, with large metal air vents snaking across it, and the walls were all exposed brick, giving a very industrial feel to the whole restaurant that I really enjoyed. The large bar zig-zagged through the length of the restaurant, making it much easier to spot an empty seat. The bar had tv's too but they were tucked in a corner towards the front, allowing the old men at the bar to watch the news or golf without disturbing the rest of the lunch crowd that would rather enjoy each others company. The bar even extended back to the open kitchen where you could watch the chefs cook your meal. The back bar was also the perfect place to watch the main event: two large wood-fired brick ovens which are used to make about 80% of their food- even the wings!
We were ready to eat and took two seats in the middle of the bar (facing the tv screen of their tap list). I was pretty happy already, but as soon as I heard my favorite Blues Traveler song, 'Hook' playing I knew this was going to be a great experience. Even our bartender Elizabeth started singing along with me! That song will put every age group in a better mood- I don't care what you say about 90's music.
The tap list at Savoy had some amazing offerings, most of the beers were relatively local. For my first, I got the Beer'd 8 Days a Week American Pale Ale; a somewhat fruity beer but with a nice citrusy kick to even out the sweetness. Chris had the Brewtus Maximus, a pale ale, made by Thomas Hooker Brewing exclusively for Savoy Pizzeria and its sister restaurants in the Max Restaurant Group. Delicately hopped with Chinook and Cascade hops, with a smooth malty caramel finish, the perfect companion as you try to eat a whole pizza by yourself (which he did).
Although Savoy is known for their pizzas, their salads look so good, they almost steal the show. We had to get the Broken Burrata- this sounded impressive when it was just on the menu. Toasted filone (Italian bread) arugula, radicchio, extra virgin olive oil, fresh fig, fig balsamic reduction and crispy prosciutto-- yes, please... When we actually got it, I full on inhaled it and kinda wished I didn't share it with Chris- I wanted my own! The bread had the perfect amount of 'doughiness' in the middle, not too chewy and not too hard. And the burrata?! Well, it's an ongoing joke with anyone that knows me, I'm obsessed- if burrata is on the menu, I'm ordering it. I had burrata for the first time when I went to Barcelona, Spain with my sister and her friend Mary Beth. Ever since then (2016) I've been obsessed, and not only did Savoy have burrata on the menu- but an entire section dedicated to it! Yeah, I like this place! The burrata at Savoy's was on point, such a creamy interior, not to mention it spilled over nicely on the finely cut crispy prosciutto.
After Chris stopped me from licking the plate clean, Briana, the manager on duty, took the time to talk about the pizzas they offer, pointing out the most popular and some of her own favorite pizzas. Briana was extremely knowledgeable about what goes into each pizza and how they cook the food in their brick ovens. Chris now works at a brick oven pizzeria called DOLA in Great Barrington, MA, and the two of them went off about pizza for like 20 minutes, giving me plenty of time to figure out what I wanted. I chose the 'Betty Ravita', prosciutto (yes, I love prosciutto), fig paste (my other weakness), asiago, goat cheese, arugula, and housemade spicy honey drizzle. Now, I've had my fair share of figs on pizza. Like Chris, I've also worked at a pizzeria, Bertucci's (almost a decade ago though, holy crap I'm aging myself now). One of their signature pizzas was the Verde pizza. A white pizza as well, with mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula and topped with balsamic fig glaze (figs kehd!). And it was no competition, Savoy's was 1,000 times better- not only fresher ingredients, but that hot honey drizzle...I could honestly take a shot of that stuff, I don't care if you judge me. That honey elevated a really good pizza into something just spectacular! It was so unbelievable. Chris kept it traditional with the Eggplant Parm pizza with fire roasted eggplant, fior di latte (a form of mozzarella), roasted red peppers, spicy breadcrumbs, and basil. I think it's safe to say he loved it since he ate the whole thing, but that might just have been because he didn't get much burrata... While we were enjoying our pizzas, Briana talked to us about other places in the area as well as the other restaurants of Max Restaurant Group, many based in Connecticut and Massachusetts. She also talked about how Dante Cistulli (owner of Savoy's), tried to keep Savoy as close to a traditional Neopolitan style pizzeria as he could- and we could definitely taste it. Chris makes the same style pizza at DOLA, and its crazy how much better that style of pizza is. It's like you're getting a pizza fresh from Naples, Itlay it's so authentic. The toppings need to be fresh, but the dough, the dough is the backbone of the pizza. If it's too chewy, soft, hard, crunchy, or doughy- it literally straight up ruins the pizza. But Savoy's dough is perfection, light and airy with a nice satisfying crunch.
As the lunch crowd started dying down, and we finished our pies- I was looking around again seeing everyone enjoying themselves and eating the last crumbs on their plates. I took the rest of my 'Betty Ravita' home since we had 3 more places to check out and eat at that day. As Briana wrapped up my pizza, I was feeling sad, like I wished I lived closer so I could come here every day. As me and Chris walked out, we smiled, side hugged each other and walked back to our car- we were pleasantly full and immensely satisfied. Briana even gave me a little surprise in my to go box- more of the hot honey drizzle on the side for me! Yayy! Needless to say, when I got home, I put that drizzle on everything. Avocadoes, chicken, pork, and fish- it seriously goes with everything! Okay, I might have a problem with the hot honey drizzle- but I'm telling you, it's that good.
From the staff, food, ambiance, drinks, even the music- everything was spot on. If you want true Neopolitan pizza, while enjoying some laughs with an old friend, co-worker, your kids, or even your borderline hipster boyfriend/girlfriend- make a trip down to Savoy Pizzeria & Craft Bar in West Hartford, CT, you'll never look at honey the same way again.
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