MERIDEN — The Little Rendezvous, a 120-year-old, coal fired brick oven pizza place on Pratt Street, received a rare 9.1 rating this week from Barstool Sports creator Dave Portnoy.
“I had no idea what we were going to get. I was a little nervous about it,” restaurant owner Steve Chehotsky said. “It’s definitely an honor to be considered one of the great places that people should check out. We’re the second highest rated place in Connecticut behind Sally’s, they got a 9 too, so it’s a pretty big deal.”
Portnoy stopped by The Little Rendezvous recently to review the pizza for his “One Bite with Davey Pageviews” internet show. The video was posted on Tuesday.
“It’s a relief that he finally made it here because people have been trying to get him to come for years,” Chehotsky said. “But he was a really nice guy, super laid back.”
Mayor Kevin Scarpati was anxiously awaiting the video and checking daily.
“Just watching his pizza reviews in the past I knew he would appreciate the history of it – the oven, the owner and kind of the overall feel and style of the restaurant,” he said. “And hearing that and then vindicating the overall quality of the pie was awesome. And just to know it’s second in Connecticut to Sally’s is pretty amazing. So I think Meriden should definitely be proud and so should Little Rendezvous and here’s to 120 more years of some of the best pizza in Connecticut.”
From the start of the review video Portnoy raves about how the restaurant makes you feel like you are as he says, “in pizza history, pizza magic.”
“We’re waiting for a pie to be done talking to the people there and everyone is going at it they’re like, ‘Oh you think New Haven has the best’ (pizza)?,” Portnoy said in the video. “Usually you’ll hear like New York vs. New Haven or other places, uh-uh a little rivalry here. We’re in Meriden and everyone was like this is better than anything that New Haven has to offer.”
Portnoy shared how even though he and the cameras were there, even with all the hustle and bustle the owner didn’t care about any of that.
“He was just making his pizzas, didn’t look up which I respected the (hell) out of,” he added.
Portnoy stood in front of The Little Rendezvous, box in hand and gave his honest opinion.
“I have high hopes and they cooked it well done, super well done actually; love the crust on there and again if you see the oven and this is the thing with pizza I don’t care like how talented and the ingredients if you don’t have an oven like that, there are certain pizzas you just can’t make,” he added.
Chehotsky was nervous and amazed because the oven changes throughout the day and at that particular time it wasn’t the very best.
“But I was able to get it crispy the way he likes it and apparently it worked out because he definitely loves the crunch of the crust, he likes the coal fired oven, so those are the places that seem to get his highest ratings. So it’s definitely an honor to be considered one of the great places that people should check out,” he added.
Portnoy held the slice of cheese pizza up for the camera to see, expressing how pleased he was with the crust and the bottom of the pizza.
“So one bite, everyone knows the rules,” he said.
He blew on it and took a bite and shook his head up and down in approval.
Scarpati said it was no surprise to him and the Meriden residents who have had Little Rendezvous before that it would score so high.
“We knew it to be one of the best spots in the state and I think this review just solidifies really how great Little Rendezvous is,” he added. “And I think it will be awesome, it will be a great thing for the business. Hopefully it will be a good boost for them and we can see some more positive press out of this.”
Portnoy said that if you’re a pizza person a 9 means this was a must try.
“This is like special if you get off at Logan or you’re at JFK you have to hit this,” he said. “If you’re going to New Haven and you’re doing Sally’s or Pepe’s, you have to make the extra half hour trip here. No questions asked. This has to be on your itinerary.”‘A lot of new faces’
It seems like the public took him up on that, because by 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, just an hour and a half after opening, it was pretty busy.
“People flooded the place, walking in, I took a few calls then we had to take the phone off the hook because we can’t really keep up as it is so until the orders start slowing down we’re going to keep making them as they come in,” Chehotsky said.
It was just Chehotsky and another staff member holding down the fort Wednesday.
“The review will bring in a lot of new faces,” Chehotsky said. “Some people will try it because of the review and not like it, others will try it and be like, ‘how have I not heard of this place?’ But that’s just the way it goes, not everyone will like it.”
Kevin Mastriano and his two friends, who were the first orders of the day, had wavering opinions on the pizza. While one of them thought it was great, the other two did not rate it quite so highly.
“We tried the pepperoni, the cheese and the sausage pizza,” Mastriano said. “It’s different from the New Haven pizza, but I like the crunch so it was good in that sense.”
Jay Alvarez, owner of Shield Driving School and longtime patron, suggests getting the pepperoni or the cheese pizza well done.
“Their pizza is great and now it’s going to be even better because Meriden is going to be another foothold. Not just Ted’s (steamed cheeseburgers), but now Little Rendezvous,” he added. “It’s not just business, there’s going to be notoriety, people knowing who we are because a lot of people don’t know about Meriden. They go to Hartford or New Haven and forget about Meriden. So I’m so happy for them and the city of Meriden. This is fantastic.”
Portnoy also reviewed Fuoco Apizza in Cheshire, which he gave another high rating of 8.5.
The Little Rendezvous is located at 256 Pratt St. It is open Wednesday & Thursday 11a.m.-8 p.m., Friday & Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m.-8 p.m., and closed Monday & Tuesday. The website is https://thelittlevous.com.