Calzones have been Johnny Troy’s top seller since the Italian restaurant opened in Manchester more than four years ago. While the calzones may continue to stay on top, they now have new competition on the menu. And the restaurant itself has a new design, all in an effort to show customers Johnny Troy’s is more than a lunch break stop.
“We want to see more people come in for dinner and enjoy a glass of wine,” owner Joe Troisi said. “We’re not the Friday night pizza joint with all the teenagers hanging out. We don’t have a rowdy crowd. We’re nice and quiet. We’ve always had a good crowd for lunch. Now we want to get people interested in the nighttime, at an incredibly reasonable price.”
A new soon-to-arrive outdoor sign is the first hint of the changes, with burgundy-colored background and much larger size. And the spruced-up dining area sets the scene. The walls are painted a warm yellow and green, and the new carpet is a burgundy with a floral design. The new seating is also a deep burgundy and has been re-configured to enhance the dinnertime experience.
The restaurant recently got a beer and wine license. Troisi had a sommelier match a selection of wines to the menu, which includes three whites and three reds. Troisi pointed out the Vinosia Primitivo, a nice Italian red zinfandel. The beer list contains most of the poplar brands, and an Italian selection, Birra Moretti, which has a slightly deeper flavor than a Budweiser. Also available are a couple of spiked coffees — Café Amaretto and a Nutty Italian (made with Frangelico).
The new sensation on the menu is the thin-crust pizza. Paper-thin with a crispy crust, these pizzas come with any favorite topping. Some featured varieties include grilled green peppers, veggie, meat lovers, and grilled chicken Florentine (with marinated grilled chicken, spinach, and red onions, topped with a four-cheese blend.) The restaurant’s original Sicilian-style pizzas are also still offered, as are the Sicilian white pizzas.
New to the pasta dinner menu is a selection of seafood items. Along with the popular shrimp ziti broccoli Alfredo, there are shrimp and scallop Marsala, shrimp and scallop Aglio e Olio (in a garlic-extra virgin olive oil sauce), and shrimp and scallop Siciliano (in the restaurant’s marinara sauce, which is enhanced with red pepper flakes, brandy and a splash of cream.)
While Troisi wants to attract evening diners, he hasn’t forgotten about he regular lunch crowd. The panini sandwich selection has expanded to 12 varieties. And there are the lunch specials: The Bada Bing with a slice of both pizza and calzone with a soda or water ($6 to $6.50), and the Fuggedaboutit with two slices of Sicilian pizza and drink ($5 to $6.)
The menu is the same for lunch and dinner. Troisi said customers enjoy the open kitchen, which allows them to watch the cooks in action: “Kids love to watch the flames when we make dishes like the Siciliano. Parents will order dishes just for the flames, and we will tell them when it’s about to happen so the kids can see.”
Johnny Troy’s is named after Troisi’s grandfather as a way to honor both of his grandparents, whose gifts of savings bonds as he was growing up helped finance his first restaurant in Tewksbury, Mass.
“We always went to my grandparents’ house for Sunday dinner. I was the youngest and my cousins would lock me in the pantry. So I was in the kitchen while my grandmother cooked.” Troisi said. He smiled and looked around the restaurant. “I blame my cousins for all of this.”
Then Troisi added, “I just love what I do. It’s such a great feeling when you don’t have to go ask someone how their dinner was because they come up to you and tell you it was fantastic.”
2075 S. Willow St., Manchester, 644-8769, www.johnnytroys.com
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.