WORCESTER - When it comes to pizza, Raena Heppenstall is a girl who loves pizza, and knows what she wants. She wants her pizza thin, and at The Corner Grille, thin is most definitely in.
"It's thin and then think thinner. It's thinner than that. Put two credit cards together and that's the thickness of our pizza," she said.
Located on Worcester's west side, The Corner Grille is a quirky, casual, BYOB spot where you will find rolling pins lining the wall, and colored pencils at your table. The specialty of the house, of course, is their ultra-thin pizzas.
Raena has been in the business for over 20 years and developed a pizza that is truly different.
"They're square. They're 14 inches by 14 inches," Raena said of her pies. "We make it so there's no crust. I'm not a fan of crust. I think it's a waste."
When it comes to toppings, Raena likes to take dishes she knows and loves, and put them on top of her pies.
"Mashed potatoes. Mexican Street Corn. We have a curry. We have a brown butter. We have so many different toppings."
Take for example their Portuguese shout out to the seaside city of New Bedford.
"The New Beddy is ground linguica and chorizo base, and then we top it with kidney beans, red onions and green peppers. Then we take kale, and we toss it with olive oil and sea salt, and we blanket the top. Then when it goes into the oven it [kale] crisps up," she explained. "This is a really good way to eat kale and get your greens."
Vegetarians will love the simple but satisfying Sweet Tomato and Basil Pie, or the Mexicali Street Corn Pizza.
"It's a base of a chile crema, and then we put roasted corn, and then we have cojita cheese, and then we hit it with cilantro pesto and then a lime wedge," Raena described. "It will make you think like you're eating Mexican Street Corn."
The unique flavors continue through the menu with pizzas like the Tipsy Goat, layered with a Chardonnay leek sauce topped with chicken, prosciutto, goat cheese and arugula; the Harvest Moon topped with brown sugar, roasted butternut squash, onions, sausage and toasted pumpkin seeds; even an Indian-style Red Curry Chicken Pie. For a stick to your ribs kind of pizza, nothing tops The Mashed Potato.
"It's a base of garlic butter. Then we do a fresh pot of mashed potatoes. We've got scallions and bacon and our cheese blend, which is smoked Gouda, a little mozzarella."
For meat lovers, there is the Cave Man.
"It's all of the carnivore foods. Hamburger, sausage, bacon, then we add onions, green peppers and our mozzarella blend," Raena said. "But it's not heavily loaded. It's like a good balance, but if you're craving meat it's a good pizza to have."
Of all the pizzas on the menu, the Chicken Caesar Salad is most definitely the fan favorite.
"Our Chicken Caesar Salad Pie, which is often copied but never duplicated, has got a base of our Caesar Salad Dressing. Then we add chicken, tomatoes, and then we blanket it with a cool Caesar salad that's been tossed in dressing," Raena listed. "That is our biggest winner seller. People will drive for miles for it."
The offerings go way beyond pizza here, with a refrigerator case loaded with fresh juices and teas presented in adorable mason jars; prepared foods to grab and go; and a selection of housemade desserts including one tremendously decadent brownie.
"We literally put a cheesecake on top of a brownie," Raena said. "I like the cream part of a cream cheese brownie, but there was never enough cream cheese for me. So we said, let's just put a thick layer of the cream cheese part. So it ended up being like a whole cheesecake on top of a brownie. That's my favorite, bar none."
More than having her favorite desserts and pizzas on demand, Raena loves being able to come to work day in and day out.
"Restaurant people are restaurant people, and if you're lucky enough to find your nitch, I don't think you'll ever leave it."
You can find The Corner Grille at 806 Pleasant Street in Worcester, and online at cornergrille.com.
Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.
for more features.