Write-Up & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb012011

Willington Pizza House in Willington, Connecticut is the kind of extraordinary restaurant travelers hope to stumble upon. Having stacked up numerous awards and having been featured in the New York Times and on “Good Morning America” and “CBS This Morning”, the specialty pizzas here are legendary. On Route 32, about a mile and a half from the University of Connecticut Storrs campus, it is a favorite eating place for some of UCONN’s biggest sports stars as evidenced by an array of photos on the walls showing the well-known athletes and television sportscasters with restaurant owner Jeff Kelly.

Located in a 250-year-old converted farmhouse, the long light gray building with red and white trimmed exterior has a quaint appearance. Just inside the main doors is the take-out pick up area and an eating bar space with tall backless stools. To the immediate left is a dining room with NASCAR motif which makes sense in that Willington Pizza House is – as described by New England colloquialism, “just down the road” – from Stafford Motor Speedway. To the right of the eating bar are two adjacent dining rooms with booths and tables covered in red checkered tablecloths, the one on the far end is slightly elevated and a few steps up. Walls in both of these rooms are filled with historic memorabilia from area towns. 009008006

Now for the pizza …Willington Pizza House has been an honoree as one of the Top 100 Independent Pizza Restaurants in the United States by PIzza Today. Famous for its Red Potato Pizza, the chefs here are always experimenting and coming up with clever offerings such as Seafood Casino Pizza, Goat Cheese Florentine Pizza, Ballpark Pizza, Hawaiian Pizza, Avocado Chicken Pizza and Sloppy Joe Pizza – just to name a few. According to their website, they use up to 2,000 pounds (one ton) of flour weekly. On the menu as well is a Heart Wise option, a red pizza pie topped with tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, garlic and broccoli – no cheese.

In addition to pizza, they have calzones, grinders, sandwiches, entrees, dips, appetizers, salads, soups & breads along with a selection of beers – the latest and for a limited time – Willington Watermelon Ale. There is a kid’s menu and soft serve items including vanilla, chocolate or swirl cones, hot fudge sundaes, milk shakes and fruit smoothies.

As noted in a message from Kelly on their website, Willington Pizza opened 35 years ago as a “12 seat take-out operation.” Over the years it expanded to more than 200 seats and in 1988 added a second shop called Willington Pizza Too.

Currently, it has 4,469 ‘likes’ on its facebook page – which is a good spot to check on what’s new on the menu.

Willington Pizza House was the place I selected for a birthday lunch with my sisters back in March and the pleasant waiter could not have been more accomodating when they brought out my cake!001

Opened seven days a week at 11 a.m.

Willington Pizza House, 25 River Road, Willington, CT 860-429-7433; Willington Pizza Too, 11 Phelps Way, Rt. 74, Willington CT 860-429-9030.