In purchasing Connie’s Pizza restaurant, a Pointe-Saint-Charles institution, the new owners had no idea they would create such a stir. The legendary recipes of the establishment, disappeared with the departure of Johnny, were in demand by the very (very!) loyal clientele. Result: Four months later, Johnny is back in the kitchen to tell you the secret behind his famous pizza.
Posted at 9:00 am
Pizza at Connie’s is part of the history of Pointe-Saint-Charles, in Montreal. Everyone in the neighborhood seems to frequent this little restaurant-bar located on the corner of Charlevoix and Coleraine streets.
However, last May, is the disaster. Connie’s Pizza changes hands when Jean Papadolias, affectionately going by the name Johnny, and his business partner Everest Kanakis retire. A very bad experience for the regulars of the restaurant. They no longer recognize the unique flavor of their pizza, because the new owners have changed the recipe.
“We lived in collective mourning, we no longer recognized our Connie’s, because we don’t call it pizza, but Connie’s,” confesses Violaine Cousineau, 48, who has lived in the neighborhood since she was born.
How can we be deprived of our pizza that is part of our heritage? It shows how attached we are to our local business, even more so when a restaurant’s pizza has marked entire generations, why change the recipe?
Dismayed customers had been discussing the issue for a few months on Pointe-Saint-Charles residents’ Facebook page.
Then, a few days ago, a dramatic turn of events: the former owner, Johnny, returned to the kitchen. “We called him for help,” says Maggie Dimitriadis, the new owner of Connie’s Pizza with her husband Chris Dimopoulos. “We did some renovations, but it was our former partner who didn’t have the same vision as us. We say goodbye to him, and all the original recipes that made Connie’s Pizza so successful are back, including the famous pizza and spaghetti sauce,” she says.
But what the heck is in this pizza? “The tomato sauce is really delicious and the crispy dough has a really unique flavor. I recognize Connie’s by its smell”, confesses Martin Lacroix, a former resident of the neighborhood who does not hesitate to travel from Longueuil to eat his Connie’s. “I order an extra large and I have left over for the next day,” he says. “The tomato sauce on the pizza is delicious, I can’t describe it to you, the base is juicy, it gives me a lot of emotion, it’s perfect! Violaine Cousineau says.
Connie’s pizza recipe is secret and will remain so.
The former owner explains: “It comes from the first owners, about 60 years ago, an Italian couple, whose wife was named Connie! »
” Back home ”
Johnny, of Greek origin, came to Quebec in 1969 and bought the restaurant in 1980. He retired at age 68 last May, after 42 years in the kitchen at Connie’s Pizza. He knows people from all over the neighborhood. “Johnny watched me grow up. I have so many beautiful memories here. Going to Connie’s is like coming home,” says Martin Lacroix, who lived in Pointe-Saint-Charles for 30 years. “When I was little, we would play hockey and Johnny would always offer us bread balls that came out of the oven,” he recalls. You know the little balls of bread that you put in the middle of the pizza so that the cheese doesn’t stick to the cardboard box? A tradition that still exists, assures us Maggie, the new owner.
Just then, Gaétan Gagnon, a neighborhood resident, cycles past the restaurant and recognizes Johnny behind the glass. “Ben, see! Juanito! You’re back!” he says, with a big smile. pizza? Juanito! You’re back! It’s great! “, he repeats.
Johnny goes out to see him on the sidewalk. “I’m back! I came out of retirement because I want the tradition to continue for a long time. I will stay in the kitchen as long as it takes to make sure that Chris, the new owner, masters my recipes perfectly,” says Johnny, who became a grandfather three weeks ago.
Maggie and Chris, the new owners, are also of Greek origin. They grew up in Montreal and understand the importance of helping each other. “The Pointe-Saint-Charles community is very united, there is a history in the neighborhood linked to this pizza, it is part of the collective memory and it touches me a lot,” she said.
“We will continue to offer all original recipes at Connie’s Pizza, as before. Spaghetti sauce is also very popular, as are souvlaki dishes, always very popular. You are welcome. »
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