Chris Conneen is well-versed in the field of pizza, a Domino’s man in his youth, who later was recruited into management and eventually ran one of the busiest stores in the giant delivery chain, in Gainesville. But the child and grandchild of artists saw pizza as palette and when his desire to do something more interesting combined with what he jokingly calls “the entrepreneurial seizure,” the result was Pizza Gallery & Grill.
It is part sit-down restaurant, part busy take-out stand; part pizza-and-sandwich shop, part server of higher-end cuisine; part kids’ nirvana, complete with a room in which children are given their own space in which they can write with chalk on walls; to popular adult meeting place, with an indoor/outdoor bar area that has become one of the most popular places in the area for young professionals.
And it is all art gallery, with the works of some of Brevard’s most acclaimed painters, photographers, sculptors and others exhibited on its walls at all times.
Originally located in downtown Melbourne, its place in the Avenue Viera has served Pizza Gallery & Grill well, with a broad mixture of patrons, from young families and retirees to businesspeople seeking a quick, out-of-the ordinary lunch.
No surprise that Pizza Gallery also has become one of the area’s more popular providers of catered food, as well as a site for private parties and meetings. “Things are going well,” Conneen says. “We are blessed.”
Top sellers at Pizza Gallery & Grill:
- “Garlic knots by far, without question,” owner Chris Conneen says. “Everybody wants garlic knots because they’re really good: crisp and hot.”
- The “Botticelli” Hawaiian pizza, which is topped with baked ham, bacon, fresh pineapple and mozzarella cheese. The chef recommends teriyaki sauce as an accompaniment.
- Fresh spinach and grilled chicken salad, which is a bed of fresh spinach served with dried cranberries, walnuts, onions, gorgonzola cheese and dressed with a balsamic sauce.
- Pesto Chicken Tower, which is grilled chicken breast layered with caramelized onions, pesto ricotta, sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella, served over mesclun with a balsamic reduction.
- Pepperoni pizza – “People still love old-fashioned pepperoni pizza,” owner Chris Conneen says.
- “Mahoo” — Mahi or wahoo, depending on what’s in season, prepared with a lobster cognac vanilla cream sauce and served with risotto
- Surf N’ Turf Chicken and Shrimp Asiago — Garlic shrimp and chicken, served with a cream Asiago sauce over angel hair.
- Sweet Honey Cinnamon Dough Knots – Fried knots drizzled with honey-butter glaze and cinnamon sugar
- Asian Tenderloin Salad – Tenderloin tips with carrots, onions, water chestnuts, broccoli, green peppers and ginger dressing over mixed greens
- Gallery burger — It weighs a half-pound.
- “Picasso” crab cake pizza – Made with claw crab, red and green peppers, onion and mozzarella, finished with Dijon remoulade.
- “Escher Blanca” white pizza – Served with parmesan sauce of olive oil glaze, with creamy parmesan sauce, fresh garlic, ricotta and mozzarella
- “Miro” teriyaki cheesesteak pizza – Made with onions, peppers, steak strips, cheese and teriyaki sauce.
“The idea came from my Dad’s mom, Mari Conneen (a prize winning watercolor artist), and my mom, Jane Conneen, who is an incredible artist too. I guess their genes were passed down to me, so that I see food in a creative way. So I put what I learned at Domino’s Pizza together with my artistic heritage and the Pizza Gallery was born.”
–Chris Conneen, Owner
How to make those signature garlic knots:
- Pizza dough
- Parmesan cheese
- Romano cheese
- Mona’s Secret Italian Seasoning
Cut dough into strips about six inches long; tie into knots. Lightly brown in 500-degree over for about five minutes. Drench with butter; sprinkle garlic and cheeses, as well as Mona’s secret Italian seasoning, available at Pizza Gallery & Grill. Serve hot.
Pizza Gallery & Grill
Address: 2250 Town Center Ave., Viera (in the Avenue Viera)
Web site: www.pizzagalleryandgrill.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays
Other: Champagne brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays; Texas Hold ‘Em Tuesdays, 6 to 10 p.m., with food and drink specials; separate children’s area, with easels and kids’ art; works of prominent local artists displayed on walls throughout the restaurant; full bar with outdoor patio area; catering service; parties and meetings accommodated; special events throughout the year, including informal science talks with experts from the Brevard Zoo and Florida Institute of Technology Professors; menu online.