Memorable | One of the Best
Wethersfield Pizza | The Grinder: Connecticut’s Heroic Hero
Review by: Michael Stern
In Connecticut, a Sub (Hoagie, Hero) is Called a Grinder
How to make a heroic hero, in the form of a chicken parm grinder:
* When you carve the chicken, don’t slice it very thick. That makes it too chewy. But do slice it thick enough to remain juicy.
* Add just the right amount of family-secret seasoning when you make the breadcrumbs. Cook the lightly breaded cutlets until those crumbs get brittle crisp at the edge.
*Use tomato sauce that is bright and fruity, preferably made from grandmother’s recipe.
*Pile the ingredients higher than high on a fresh roll. Add ready-to-melt provolone on top. Bake it until everything melds together in a dazzling swirl of crunch and chew and spicy Italian savor.
Wethersfield Pizza House does it just like that. Father, mother, grandfather, daughter, and daughter’s husband have been doing it just like that for four decades.
Pizza Takes a Back Seat
Yes, the name of the place is “Wethersfield Pizza House.” The pizzas are alright if you like the bready Sicilian sort of crust that is frighteningly grease-free. (Look here for an ode to Connecticut’s legendary pizzerias.) Savvy eaters put this place is on their good-eats map not for pizza, but for grinders. They come as 8-inch “halves,” which are big enough to sate a very healthy appetite, or 16-inch “wholes.” I will shake the hand of any man or woman who polishes off a whole one in a single sitting.
King of All Grinders
Chicken cutlets are the main attraction. They are grand the way only a natural cook can make them. Each is a gorgeous ribbon of meat and crust. Wethersfield chefs pile them into a sandwich four pieces high. They top them either in the traditional veal-parm way (sauce and cheese) or American-style with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.
Once you’ve savored the chicken a few times, do pull yourself away for a different heroic hero. Consider a grinder of meatballs, made in the kitchen behind the order counter. Regular customers go for eggplant Parmesan, fried mozzarella with marinara sauce, or peppers with eggs. Don’t neglect cold sandwiches, either. They heap a humongous Italian special with ham, cotto salami, genoa salami, provolone, and a thick layer of peppers and diced tomatoes.
Wethersfield Pizza House has earned a solid reputation among northeast sandwich cognoscenti. (It was thanks to an erudite Roadfood.com discussion about Connecticut grinders that I found my way here.) But fame has in no way gone to its head. It remains a modest storefront on a busy commercial boulevard. A sign in the window does let passers-by know that here they will find the “Biggest Grinders Around – Home of the Chicken Cutlet.”
To place an order, either telephone or walk through the door and step up to the counter. A wall menu hangs overhead. If you will be dining on premises, find a place at one of a handful of booths and tables covered with easy-wipe vinyl. Many people come for take-out. Full-size grinders cost about $20; half-size about $10. Even smaller versions can be had on a simple round roll.
Directions & Hours
- Monday: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Tuesday: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Wednesday: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Thursday: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Friday: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Saturday: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Sunday: Closed
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||No|