THE BITE: Connie’s Pizza (3845 Nostrand Avenue) is one of the survivors of Sheepshead Bay. With Pathmark closed and a Subway shop located almost next door, it has to be.

Enticed by a large sign in the window offering $5 heros, I ventured in for lunch and ordered.

After a few minutes I was given my hero and the bill – $7 plus tax. Wait a minute, the sign says $5. I inquire and am told that the sign refers only to the “special heros” and I ordered the “standard.” I explain that I had no idea there was a “special hero” or that it required any “special” action on my part to get the advertised price. I asked why I wasn’t informed about the “standard” when I ordered and was told once again that if I wanted the “special price,” I had to ask for it specifically. After some more bickering back and forth, the price of my hero was finally reduced.

On my second visit months later, the “special” sign still hung in the window. I once again ordered a hero that was advertised. This time I purposely didn’t mention that I wanted the “special.” Again, there was no mention by the counter man of the special hero, nor of the standard. My order arrived and I was charged a price actually higher than the printed menu. The menu does have a caveat printed on it that “prices are subject to change without notice.” I guess I was the victim of inflation.

Now, that sign has been hanging in Connie’s window for more than a year. Once again, I venture in and order a hero. Once again, there’s no mention of the “special.” My hero arrived and I’m charged $5.75, (which is actually 50 cents less than what’s printed on the menu) for the meatball parmigiana hero. I ask about the sign and am given the line about having to ask for the “special.” I am also told for the first time that the special hero is smaller than the regular. Which makes me wonder aloud, if the hero is available in two sizes, special or not, why wasn’t I asked what size I wanted? After all, when I ordered a soda, I was asked if I wanted “fountain or bottle.”

What’s the deal with this sandwich for heaven’s sake?

I know, I’m only arguing about a couple of bucks – but, damn – why the bait and switch? Connie’s Pizza is beloved by many members of the community, but I wonder why if this is how they do business.

But what about the food, you say? There’s not much to say as The Bite only focuses on one dish and today’s dish was, indeed, nothing special. In the hero, I was given three average size meatballs, a small amount of mozzarella cheese and a smattering of sauce. The bread was an interesting choice as it was nicely golden and had a good chew, but none of the crustiness one usually finds in Italian bread. It held up nicely to the contents of the hero, but it wasn’t much of a fight.

The meatballs themselves were almost tasteless. They were extremely light and seemed to be comprised mostly of breadcrumbs and very shy of meat. Unfortunately, they fell apart when bitten or pressed together in the sandwich. The sauce had a strong flavor of sausage, which didn’t work with the meat. Frankly, I wish I ordered from Subway instead.

I hate picking apart a survivor, but it seems Connie’s is resting on its history and no longer delivering the goods. Reviews, from Facebook to Yelp, all seem to be trending the same way, with comments about how great Connie’s Pizza was in the past, but very few positive reviews from today.

C’mon Connies – we know you can do better. Let us know when you up your game, and we’ll be back in for another Bite.

Connie’s Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant, 3845 Nostrand Avenue (between Avenue Y and Avenue Z), (718) 646-9644.

The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

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  • Guest

    It sounds like you should have gone to Subway.

  • Animo916

    If memory serves me correct, Connie’s is in their 3d location. Originally started on the corner by Sheepshead High School. At that time, it was pretty good. Then they moved to the northern end of the shopping center, and then their present location. Since their first move it was never the same.

    • http://www.chickenunderwear.com Chicken Underwear

      I remember it being at the North end of the shopping center as early as the late ’60s. I thought it was the only pizza place in the world.

      • peppertree5706

        AGREED! Connie’s was at the north end in 1965 and probably since their founding in 1959. Their original sign is inside the current location.

    • Mr, Mojon

      There was another pizzeria on X & Coyle throughout the 70′s and 80′s but it wasn’t called Connie’s. I forgot the name. Maybe it was the same owners as Connie’s.

  • Andy Baum (no FB at work)

    The Ruffino family sold the business about five years ago. Back in the day, there were two locations: Haring Street & Avenue X across from Shellbank JHS and the Nostrand shopping center. In the early 70s, the Haring & X operation moved to Neptune Avenue and Ocean Pkwy. The Nostrand operation moved in 1997 to its present site at the south end of the shopping center due to the expansion of Pathmark. I’ve only rarely eaten there since Sal sold the business.

    • nolastname

      Five years ago is about when I stopped eating there.
      Robert, that hero looks like it came from a school cafeteria…40 years ago!

    • Mr. Mojon

      There was a pizzeria on avenue X and Haring when i moved into the area in 1973 which was called “Bella Donna Pizza” (or something like that), but a few years later the name was changed to Grandma’s Pizza which didn’t last very long. Later on, Grandma’s Pizza became “Sandy’s Burger Shack and many other businesses including the ill fated “Pizza Deli”.

      • Mr. Mojon

        My Mistake “Bella Donna Pizza” was on the corner of Avenue X and Brown St in the former Dairy Queen location, directly across from Shellbank JHS.

    • Andy Baum (no FB at work)

      Edit: Brown St & Avenue X. On the same block as Topps Records.

      The Nostrand Avenue location dates back to when the shopping center opened in the late 50s – 1958, I think. In those days, Penn Fruit occupied the lot where subsequent supermarkets (Hills, Waldbaum’s, Pathmark) came in.

    • peppertree5706

      I would be happy to send you a photocopy of my 1973 Connie’s menu if you want it. By the way, always wondered who Connie was.

      • http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/ Ned Berke

        Send to nberke [at] sheepsheadbites.com !

        • peppertree5706

          I made a copy of a paper menu. Is there a mailing address where I can send it?

      • Andy Baum (no FB at work)

        Connie was Sal’s mom. His parents started the business. I believe the family still operates a restaurant in New Jersey…and I think it’s this one:
        http://ruffinos.weebly.com/index.html

      • nolastname

        Please post it.

        • peppertree5706

          I am not that sophisticated with computers. I already made a copy of it, and two other Connie’s menus from the early 1980′s and can send them to someone who will post them.

    • Mr. Mojon’

      Connie’s also had a location in the shopping center around Ralph Ave & Ave J, which closed some time during the late 70′s.

  • raylotekka

    Robert,
    You’re a braver soul than I am. I used to go to Connie’s when I was new to the nabe, back in 2002-2003 … maybe even throughout 2004 (I can’t recall). The boyfriend and I stopped when we saw the counter guy attending to the garbage, then going directly back to handling pizza — he didn’t wash his hands, he didn’t have gloves on at any point. Truly, it was enough to make one gag! I haven’t been back since.

  • MrArtTuro

    How do I phrase this? Was it me or is that photo somewhat unappealingly carnal?

  • genee

    connie’s? were you drunk?

  • peppertree5706

    When the Ruffino family owned Connie’s, there was no better pizza anywhere. A crust that had the taste of garlic in it. I can taste it now, in my memory. After that family left the business, the taste sank to something below average. I ate there once after the sale and could tell the difference with my first taste.

    Started eating at Connie’s in 1966 for 25 cents a slice. Still have a 1973 menu with $3.75 for a large pie.

    It is too bad that a once superb pizza is now not worth eating. Thankfully Del Mar on Sheepshead Bay Road still maintains their 1960′s quality.

    • Andy Baum (no FB at work)

      Yes, 25¢/slice in 1966. Price held until about 1971. Three slices and a large soda for a dollar.

      • peppertree5706

        Sodas, from a fountain (no ice) were ten and fifteen cents.

  • guest

    love the food there i go there all the time and the owner is such a pleasure !!! =]

  • Derek Favors

    connies should close down the place is a shit hole

  • Ryan

    I have been to connies a few times in past 5 years and I agree that the food is subpar. I recently moved from Gravesend (used to go to KNAPP II that has declined in quality but still go to spumoni for their squares which are still great but sometimes feels like they are getting tinier). I moved to sheepshead bay and most pizza places are so so..the best ive had is Avenue X pizza and grill. Every slice tastes like double cheese, crust is chewy and tasy and the sause is very good. When you get topping they load it up ..PLUS a LARGE 18 inch pie is 8.99…best deal and taste in the bay area for pizza

    • nolastname

      Avenue X Pizza and Grill does have very good pizza. I like the chicken ceasar.