Westport Pizzeria served its first slice in the 1960s. It will serve its last in the 2020s.
The restaurant — after Gold’s, the longest-running food-serving establishment in Westport — will not make it much into the new decade. however. The iconic pizza place is closing January 11.
The news — first reported on WestportNow — stunned Westporters. “The pizzeria” — that was all you needed to call it — was a fixture on Main Street from Columbus Day, 1968 to February 2014. Owner Mel Mioli moved to his current location around the corner on the Post Road, across from Design Within Reach, when his lease was not renewed.
Mioli — who founded the business with his brother Joe — figures that after 51 years of making pizzas (and memories), this is a good time to retire. Joe left the business in 2004, and served 3 terms as state representative.
Many other Miolis have worked at Westport Pizzeria. But none — including his 2 sons — wanted to carry on the tradition.
And what a tradition it was. The pizza was not gourmet — but it was great. The decor was simple — but it was fine. What counted was the food, the consistency, and the folks behind the counter.
Plus the memories. Thanks for all of them, from all of Westport, to all the Miolis.
In October 2018, Westport Pizzeria celebrated its 50th anniversary. Here’s how “06880” covered that story.
In October 1968, Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey battled it out for the presidency. Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave glove-and-fist black power salutes on the medal stand at the Mexico City Olympics. “Hey Jude” sat atop the record charts.
And on October 12, 1968 — its opening day of business — Westport Pizzeria sold a slice for 25 cents.
In October 2018, we all know what happened after Nixon became president. We’ve seen how far our country’s race relations have progressed — and how much further we have to go. “Hey Jude” is still a great song.
It costs quite a bit more than a quarter to buy a slice these days. Westport Pizzeria is no longer an anchor on Main Street.
But it hasn’t gone far — just around the corner, on Post Road East. And the special, basic-but-so-good recipe has never changed.
This Friday (October 12) the pizza place celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special deal: They’ll sell slices for 25 cents. Sodas are even cheaper: 15 cents.
In 1968, Westport Pizzeria was the only game in town. Now there’s competition everywhere, from thick-crust Planet and gourmet Tarry Lodge to train station Romanacci.
But the Mioli family — the founders and still the only owners of Westport Pizzeria — must be doing something right. A restaurant doesn’t last 50 years here on luck alone.
Some don’t even last 50 days.
Some things never change.
It’s 1969, we had just been moved into our house in Westport, movers had left, we were hungry. I went in search of take out with no cash on hand and no cc; no one would accept a check from this stranger…ended at Westport Pizza, was warmly welcomed and told to order what I wanted and come back when I could to pay.
WP has been our go to pizza supplier for FIFTY years.
Thanks, Mel, and all good wishes for the road ahead.
They will be missed deff good people and a great family
From my family to Mr. Mioli, a very heartfelt wish for a wonderful and well earned retirement. We have loved your pizza for all 21 years that we have lived in Westport. We have centered numerous “family nights” and celebrations around your good food (and perfect crust!) Thank you for all of your hard work feeding us on so so many occasions. There is nothing, NOTHING as good as Westport pizza in Connecticut, you will be hugely missed.
Always our, “go to” for pizza. Like Dan, I believe our first supper on arrival in Westport in 1976, was Westport Pizza. It is time for Mel to enjoy his leisure and Thank You both Mioli’s for your years in Westport. We will miss you for sure.
Very sad to hear the news. 30+ years of eating Westport Pizzeria pizza.
Mel Mioli, a wonderful person! I will miss this place…It was so authentic. Great pizza’s, lovely people that always made you feel welcomed. A little oasis in a town that has been losing so many of its unique little “gems.” This loss will be felt by so many!.
My dad moved to Westport in 1969 and ate at Westport Pizza the first week he moved in (I think he also bought a bunch of cigarettes out of their machine). 226-4094 was one of the first phone numbers I remember learning. I ordered a pizza there earlier this week that was just as good as the ones I remember from 30+ years ago. There aren’t many places that are worth going to for 50 years. We’ll miss you!
Happy retirement to Mel and the Mioli family and hope that the staff there all finds somewhere to land (maybe even with the same pizza recipe?)
Had my last slice at the pizzeria in early summer of 1971 then moved to New Jersey. The slice(s), as always, were great . . . New Jersey, not so much.
I’m very sad. They have been a part of my life since they opened. (I think that’s me as the customer in the old picture) Joe and Mel sold pizza 25 cents a slice and they put mushrooms on mine. Years later I brought my kids there too, I hope to bring my 2 year old granddaughter before you close. But I have a question for you, Mel…are you sure you want to do this?
Let’s all get over to Gold’s soon -and frequently- we can’t lose another gem in Westport’s cultural crown.
Let’s all get over to Gold’s soon — and frequently; we can’t lose yet another gem in Westport’s cultural crown.
Running that type of business is not easy—so kudos to the extended Mioli family on all your years of success and, for Mel. hoping retirement turns out to be everything you hoped for.
I have fond memories of Mel and WP. We used to take our daughter there when she was 2 years old [she’s now 31] and sit at the counter to enjoy our slices. Mel was always super friendly, he will be missed.
A real Westport institution.
Best wishes for a happy and
well deserved retirement.
I’m torn – I make no secret about my love of Westport Pizzeria – I was there for Saturday night pizza dinner there with my kids for over 15 years when my wife worked weekends, and we still get there often, order from there too – in fact my son worked at the Pizzeria last summer. I was raised on their pizza, stopping in for a slice or two when slices were 35 cents, then splitting pies with friends as we got older. But really, it’s about Mel, and Joe, and all the people that work there, and the people you bump into when you stop in.
The Pizzeria is a real hometown “townie” joint – that’s a rarity, and a status earned over decades.
The reason I am torn is because, just as Mel says, he is coming up on 80 – and let’s face it, Mel (the nicest guy you’ll ever meet) has earned some time off. Joe retired a decade and a half ago, and while I wish there was another generation of Miolis ready to run it, I know them too and I am happy for their own journeys and successes. But damn . . .
I am heartbroken at this news. I wish Mel all the best, but wish as much that another generation was willing to carry it on. Another blow to Westport’s downtown.
When Westport Pizzeria closes it is very clear – MOVE.
What an amazing run it’s been! Great pizza, wonderful family, awesome memories. I used to take most my lunch breaks there when I worked at the YMCA in the 1970s, and always took my son there when visiting town. I wish Mel and his family the best.
Wow…we moved from Westport to Weston for a few years back in the late 60s.My friends and I would hitch hike downtown and always ended up getting Pizza and a soda before heading to Needle park to hang out. There was nothing to do in Weston…
Westport Pizza is one of the places I always stopped at whenever I came home to visit ( and Oscar’s). I am so glad that I got to grow up in Westport back in the 60’s-80’s…it has changed so much since then. What a shame…I hope somebody decides to carry on the tradition and can buy the recipe for the best Pizza ever…of course they would have to supply their own level of customer service which would have to be above and beyond like everybody associates with the Westport Pizza experience 😁
HAPPY RETIREMENT TO THE MIOLI FAMILY
As a high school student from ’71-’74 and working at a small retail shop on Main Street, many a Saturday lunch was ordered from Westport Pizzeria…their meatball subs were killer !!!
I wonder why Mel and Joe did not sell the biz to someone else?