For those living under a rock (or those too preoccupied with actual news), there’s a new pizza in town and it’s rattling some cages. At the helm of Rico’s kitchen are two former employees of Stamford’s iconic dive, Colony Grill, and they’ve (allegedly) brought the pizza with them. Normally, we like to give new places time to settle in so that the inconsistencies, growing pains, and stupid waits normally associated with new places have a chance to die down. This time, Stamford’s newest rivalry didn’t afford us that luxury.
Establishment. Plainly put, Rico’s is a takeout/delivery joint with a few tables in it. At best, they’re a counter service pizzeria with a 45 minute wait (partially due to the buzz surrounding the “illegal” use of Colony’s recipes, partially due to the curiosity that comes with having a new pizza in town to try). We tried to call ahead four or five times to place our order before we got there but the phones kicked us straight to voicemail despite them being manned by at least two people at any given time. Nonetheless, were were taken care of by a friendly staff without having to look at creepy painted wood cutouts while delivery orders went flying out the door in the interim. While we’re talking about differences between this place and another place, it certainly bears mentioning that Rico’s menu includes calzones, empanadas, wedges, wraps, and salad offerings in addition to the contentious little pizzas that brought us there.
Pizza. The minute these pizzas hit the table, we were thinking the same thing that you are looking at these pictures, “Boy, that pie looks familiar…” Upon further investigation, it also tastes familiar. Rico’s crust is super thin with crispy edges, a hearty crunch, and a surprisingly chewy bite that you wouldn’t expect from a cracker-thin pie (unless, of course, you’ve had some exposure to pizzas like this…) that contributes chiefly to the overall flavor. Rico’s sauce and cheese meld together in an intricate lace that yields a big texture and a not-so-special flavor. While adding a stringy, satisfying snap, the cheese seems like an afterthought with its flavor. Moreover, the sauce is noticeably underseasoned and carries an unnatural sweetness beyond what we’d naturally expect from tomatoes. Couple that with the breakneck speed at which the pizza cools and you have a recipe for a pie that doesn’t hold up very well after it’s been out of the oven for 10-15 minutes.
At it’s heart, Rico’s Pizza is about the toppings. With small, cookie-sized pizzas (okay, admittedly a big cookie), it naturally follows that they become customized to the individual with ingredients that fill the gaps left open by the lackluster sauce and cheese elements. We ordered a hot oil and stingers (hot peppers) pie and one with sausage. The hot oil was bold, spicy, and most importantly, used in moderation to complement the peppers for a considerably less greasy texture than an oil topping would lead you to think (in fact, all of the pizzas were considerably less greasy). Additionally, the sausage added much needed heartiness and saltiness to the pie that it was generously strewn across. Rico’s enters the Stamford pizza scene as a solid competitor to other thin crust
bar pies, with subtle improvements that set it apart, albeit slightly.
Bottom line. Rico’s is the quintessential bar pie without the bar. If you’re looking for a good, traditional pizza, there are other places to go, but if you’ve got a Colony addiction, Rico’s is a viable substitute.
Hits the Spot: 7/10
Large cheese: $8.50 (13")