Eileen's Pizzeria and Grill is a small, family-owned restaurant nestled into a wall of stores on Merrimack Street in downtown Lowell. The restaurant is run by John Curtis and his family and is named after one of his daughters, Eileen. Curtis and his family started Eileen's after hearing about a vacant spot in Lowell and deciding that they wanted to own a restaurant.
Curtis only buys fresh ingredients for his food, which shows in the bright, healthy vegetables. To Curtis, the quality of the food is the most important aspect. He says, "My motto is that quality is first, service is second; some people may not like you or your service but if they like your food, they will come back."
Though pizza seems to be the main item on the menu, the choices are endless. Both the pizzas and calzones have multiple meat and vegetarian options, the most creative of which are pineapple and ham pizza, and eggplant, garlic and mozzarella calzones. Almost as popular as the pizza is the pasta, ranging from classic meatball to veal parmesan. For those who need a meal on the run, there are a wide range of sandwiches -- classic clubs, subs and roll-ups, all stuffed with tantalizing ingredients. For those who prefer salads, the choices are surprisingly plentiful, again including vegetarian and meat options. If you still are not satisfied, there are buffalo wings dipped in hot, mild, barbecue, honey mustard or teriyaki sauces.
The pizzas and calzones with toppings range from $12 for small to $16 for large; cheese is $6 and 8$ for both. Sides run from as low at $2, while the fried mushrooms and chicken fingers are about $8. The vegetarian salads average about $7, and those with meat are about $1 more. Buffalo wings are $7 for eight pieces, $12 for sixteen, and $22 for twenty pieces. The sandwiches and roll-ups average $7 with subs being around $6. The pasta dishes have two sizes -- half tray ($20-$40) or full tray ($35-$80).
- Success and Future
Though Eileen's is less than two years old, Curtis knows exactly how to handle his restaurant. He believes that when running a restaurant, it is important to know one's competitors inside and out.
"I am not afraid of competition and I think it is healthy," he states wisely. "I think you can learn as much about yourself as you can by learning about your competitor."
However, Curtis seems to be more focused on the future of his restaurant. Ultimately, his goal it to expand but until then, he challenges himself to bring in more customers. Curtis is trying to put seafood on the menu since there are few restaurants in the area that serve it. But cooking means more to Curtis than just customers and competition. He says, "I think cooking is an expression of an artistic quality, you have to see it like music. When you cook something, it is passionate. It is something deep."
Eileen's Pizzeria and Grill, 127 Merrimack St., Lowell, is open Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-midnight; Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. For information, visit eileenspizzeria.com or call 978-458-8901.