WOODBURY – San Remo Restaurant & Pizzeria was voted the Best Pizza in Woodbury in an online vote conducted in August by Just Woodbury, Woodbury’s hometown newspaper.
Why did readers choose San Remo over seven other places that serve pizza in Woodbury? That’s a loaded question, said San Remo owner Chris Gogas.
“I want to thank our customers for voting for us,” Gogas said. “If it wasn’t for our customers, we wouldn’t be in business.”
Why San Remo’s is Different
Gogas said it’s hard to really explain why San Remo’s stands out from other sit-down restaurants in town, such as Elenni’s and Carlito’s. Gogas said they all use fresh ingredients and they are all fimily-owned.
“Every restaurant is great, but everybody is a little different,” Gogas said. “What makes us different? Filotimo.”
Gogas said filotimo is something that is a part of the Greek culture. Gogas describes filotimo as the natural inner aura of Greeks, that they want to give to people and please them.
“Sit down, eat, drink, we want you to enjoy. Don’t leave, stay longer,” Gogas said. “And I think that’s what makes the difference. We just like to please.”
Consistency and Experience
Gogas bought San Remo in 2007. Most of his staff has been with San Remo for at least 10 years, and some have been there as long as 20 years. That continuity has allowed San Remo to remain consistent, and Gogas said customers know what to expect.
“Our strong points are consistency and quality,” Gogas said. “We have that, coupled with a menu that is family-priced. There are restaurants that are higher priced, but you won’t get the same quality or the same amount of food.”
Chef Gafur Ajruli worked for San Remo before Gogas took over. Manager Thea Nikos has been a part of the team for 20 years.
“You know how people say, ‘Oh, I hate my job?’” Nikas said. “I love my job. I never get up in the morning and say oh, I don’t want to go to work. They’re great people to work for. They’re like family.”
Jordan’s Style and The Larry
Gogas was the owner of Jordan’s in Southbury Plaza, and closed it shortly after he bought San Remo. When Jordan’s closed, Gogas brought the Jordan’s style pizza to the San Remo’s menu.
Jordan’s style is a pan pizza, while the San Remo style is a more traditional hand-tossed pizza. San Remo’s also offers a gluten free option, as well as a whole wheat crust.
The most popular type of pizza, according to the voters, is not even on the menu. And that came as a pleasant surprise to Gogas.
Larry’s Pizza, or “The Larry,” comes with chicken, broccoli, a sherry creme sauce and a lot of garlic. It was ordered often by a customer named Larry, who would call in his order ahead, eat at the bar, and share it with other customers.
That sharing is what helped make The Larry popularity grow.
Gogas said Larry recently died from injuries he sustained in an accident. Gogas may memorialize Larry by giving The Larry a permanent place on the menu.
Something for Everyone
Takeout is 40% of San Remo’s business, but Gogas said his business can be segmented into thirds. There’s the bar area, where customers can grab a drink, eat, and watch a game, and the dining room area, where you can have a sit-down meal with the family.
“There’s something for everyone here,” Gogas said. “The kids can have a pizza, Mom can enjoy a shrimp dish, and Dad can have a steak, and everybody is happy.”
And they also leave with leftovers. Nikas said most people who come to San Remo’s to eat leave with a doggie bag.