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Phantom Gourmet: Anzio’s Brick Oven Pizza In Grafton

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GRAFTON – Thin. Crispy. Classic. It’s known as New Haven style pizza, named after the world famous pizzerias of New Haven, Connecticut. And now, you can get it a bit closer to home, thanks to Todd Harrington and his restaurant Anzio’s in Grafton, Massachusetts.

“I grew up right outside of New Haven, Connecticut, so this is the style of pizza that I grew up on. My wife and I living in Massachusetts, we haven’t been able to find that anywhere. So we tried to bring that style of pizza up to Massachusetts.”

“Our pizzas are so much different because it is that thin crust. It’s a little bit airy. It’s crunchy. So when you bite into it with the combination of the sauce and all the fresh toppings that we use – it’s unlike any other pizza that I’ve ever had before.”

Set inside a quaint, rustic space, Anzio’s is a casual spot where Todd and his wife Kathleen tend to the tables, and spread the gospel of what makes New Haven style pizza so special.

“It’s an American flour; it’s an extremely high gluten flour. We make it from scratch. We do dough every single day, multiple times a day, so you’re always getting a great fresh product. We do our stretches out to an 18-inch large, almost a New York style pizza.

“It’s a fresh sauce; all of our toppings are fresh. So when you put that together you really get a pizza that can’t be duplicated anywhere else.”

You certainly won’t find pizzas as eye-popping as these.

“The best reaction we get is somebody who’s never been here before and we put down the pizza and they go ‘Wow,’ and that happens a lot.”

There’s the Proscuitto Pizza, slathered in a garlic cream sauce, topped with Italian Prosciutto, caramelized onions and a balsamic reduction drizzle, while the Roasted Summer Squash pie combines garlic with goat cheese and plenty of fresh, flavorful squash.

“Nothing says summer to me like roasted vegetables. They’re in season and it’s so aromatic. When it comes out of the oven everybody can just smell it.”

The Sienna Pizza is spiked with sweet Italian sausage, roasted peppers and Fontina, and the classic Margherita is simple yet scrumptious, sauced with slow cooked marinara.

The sauce is made in-house for Anzio's Margherita pizza. (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

The sauce is made in-house for Anzio’s Margherita pizza. (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“We make the sauce in house,” Harrington said. “It’s our recipe. We make it every single day. On that pizza, you have a great crust and it’s fresh mozzarella cheese, but it’s the sauce on that pizza that really makes that pizza stand out from any other Margherita I’ve had.”

Since there’s always sauce on the stove, Anzio’s offers all kinds of Italian specialties – all made from scratch.

“Having spent some time in Italy, part of the reason why I think the food is so good there is because everything is made from scratch. Take a little bit more time. Use better ingredients. The end result is obviously going to be much better and that’s really what we wanted to do. It does take a lot longer to make sauces every day and roast vegetables and make pasta from scratch, but the end result is so worth it. It can’t be duplicated anywhere else.”

There’s creamy Penne Alla Vodka with housemade pasta, delectable hand-rolled Meatballs, and ultra-addictive Fried Polenta Squares.

“It’s nice and crispy and crunchy,” Todd described. “It’s a semolina polenta so it’s almost like fried cheese. It’s a kicked up version of a really good fried cheese.”

Even something as simple as Chicken Parm is taken very seriously here. To keep it hot and crispy on the outside but still juicy in the center, they don’t start the cooking process until the order is placed.

“What makes a great chicken parmesan and that it’s made to order. We’re pounding that chicken out right then and there. We’re flouring, egg wash, our bread crumbs. It’s getting fried right then and there. We’re going to top it with sauce and cheese, bake it in the oven for you, so that really differentiates our chicken parm from anywhere else.”

That same on-the-spot preparation goes into Anzio’s Cannoli. They’re always filled fresh to order so the shells stay crispy, while the center remains cold and creamy.

“It’s piped per order. It’s fresh-made chocolate chip cannoli cream. You order it. We’re going to pipe it into the cannoli shell and then hit it with a little bit of powdered sugar.”

While the Harrington’s are thrilled to now have their prized pizza so close by, they get even more satisfaction in sharing it with their customers.

“I have the best job in the world,” Todd said. “I get to meet and greet with people all day long. When I go home at the end of the night I hope, and we hope, that we a made a great impact on some people with the food that we’re serving.”

Anzio’s is at 135 Westboro Road in Grafton, or online at anziosbrickovenpizza.com.

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.

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