If there’s one thing, other than making a tasty pizza with a side of baklava, that Angelo and Aggie Koukoularis know how to do, it’s create a community-building venue.
The husband-and-wife team and owners of , have had both loyal regulars and employees since opening the business 25 years ago. I understand why—Angelo is adamant about the importance of treating employees with respect, which is then passed on to locals. This place has an inherently happy vibe.
“We have customers that come here every day and the friendship and the family atmosphere is the best part of the restaurant” Angelo said.
Raised around the celebration of food, in tightly knit families with strong community ties, both Angelo and Aggie bring the best of their Greek roots to the Pizza Palace. Although baklava is the only trace of Greek heritage on the menu, warmth and generosity generates in their enclave.
Angelo and Aggie grew up immersed in the world of culinary pursuits. Aggie’s family moved from Greece more than 40 years ago and runs restaurants in both Waterford and Montville while Angelo grew up working in his family’s small Greek restaurant and cafe in Pogoniani, Greece.
“I grew up in Greece and came over when I was 23 years old after serving two years in the military,” Angelo said. “It was a small town so we didn’t have all of the luxuries as now—life was very simple.“
But, he remembers working in their restaurant with his sister, serving Greek food and wine, which was quite popular with the locals.
He and Aggie met as she was on vacation in his village, which was coincidentally her birthplace. They connected, got married and he eventually joined her and her family in Montville. Together they worked at the family business, Oakdale Pizza and three years later decided to search for an ideal location for their own restaurant.
Angelo remembers driving down scenic Stonington Road, 25 years ago and stumbling upon their current location, which at the time was just a foundation under construction. He saw the rental sign and liked what he saw.
“You start picturing what it will look like and we just decided to give it a go,” Angelo said. “I am more than happy with our choice—we are in a beautiful town. We love it and we love the people here.”
Angelo, who enjoys traveling and playing golf in his spare time admits during the busier months he and Aggie work up to 80 hours a week.
As local business owners, they are strong proponents for supporting and donating to local businesses and organizations. Whether it’s the local wine shop, florist or baseball team, Angelo acknowledges this is an important value established during his upbringing.
With occasional help in the kitchen from their daughter and son, the Koukoularises seem to thrive in their environment and maintain a passion for what they do.
“It makes me feel good to come to work everyday,” Aggie said. “I know everyday is going to be a good day, because we love and enjoy what we are doing.”