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Grilled Chicken Pizza
Dracut House of Pizza owner Nick Manolis and his son Elias Manolis, both of Dracut.
Dracut House of Pizza owner Nick Manolis and his son Elias Manolis, both of Dracut. (SUN/Julia Malakie)

DRACUT -- Nick and Elias Manolis are the only Dracut House of Pizza employees who hold the recipes for the restaurant's sauces and Greek-style marinades. The recipes have been in the Manolis family for years; the sauce recipe is even older than Elias.

"You have to be consistent," Nick said of the food served at the eatery.

Nick began working at Dracut House when he was only 15 years old. When he turned 18, his father quit his factory job to work with him at the restaurant and later purchased the business. Elias is next in line to take over the pizzeria.

"You never retire from a business like this when it's a family business," Nick said. "You get to a point where you want to work, whereas you have to work."

As a teenager, when Elias' friends would spend their Saturday mornings watching cartoons, he and his brother would beg their mother to bring them to restaurant so they could sweep the floors.

"The best thing is to have someone to pass (the business) onto, who has the same commitment and values that you do," Nick said.

Nick not only raised his own family at the restaurant but has also watched generations of his regular customers continue to patronize the eatery.

"I think I've eaten everything on the menu," a patron told me. "There's not anything I don't like."

Quality might be one thing, but it's the customer service that Manolis said makes his family eatery stand out from chain pizzerias. Most DHOP staffers have worked at the eatery for 20-plus years; turnaround is nearly nonexistent.

The menu still features many of the same traditional items as when its doors first opened in 1972 (the restaurant moved to its current location in 1993). Nick noted that he still remembers when a small pizza rang in at less than one dollar. Over the last 30 years, Nick has added some menu items named after a few family friends; the Chuck (pizza topped with grilled peppers and onions), the Judith (pizza topped with onions, peppers, feta, mushroom, tomato, olives and grilled chicken), and Kal's Lebanese Falafel Wrap.

Dracut House has also expanded its seafood offerings over the last few years; it's menu now boasts such items as lobster rolls (prepared with four ounces of lobster meat), a Fisherman's Platter (fried shrimp, scallops, haddock and clams, served with fries and onion rings), and baked salmon. All seafood dishes are served with homemade coleslaw.

During the summer the restaurant's marquee reads "Our seafood is better than the beach."

"You have to be different, be a trendsetter," Nick said. "You've got to lead and have everyone else follow you."

Dracut House of Pizza

1067 Lakeview Ave., Dracut, 978-957-4210, dracuthop.com

  • Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Waitress service begins upstairs at the restaurant on Fridays, starting at 5 p.m.
  • Parking: The restaurant has its own lot
  • Menu: Pizza, subs, salads, seafood, pasta and grilled entrees, with a full bar. DHOP offers a special menu for kids and those young at heart.
  • Price Range: Regular pizzas average around $10, large around $15. Costs of other menu items run the gamut -- $6-$16.
  • Atmosphere: Casual and family-friendly
  • Try this: Fisherman's Platter, Grilled Chicken Greek Salad, Grilled Chicken Pizza, Lobster Roll
  • Doing good: The Manolis Family Foundation was formed 20 years ago and serves families in the community through scholarships and annual donations of Thanksgiving dinners to those in need. The foundation plans to donate 2,000 Thanksgiving dinners this year. Visit manolisff.org to get involved.