WALLINGFORD – At Knuckleheads on Center Street customers drink beer and eat pig wings next to pictures of rock stars and graphics of the restaurant’s official mascot – the “knucklehead”- a black and white pit bull.
“I adopted a pit bull about six months before we decided to open here and I used to call her a knucklehead and that’s our logo everywhere,” said Anthony Morgillo, owner. “I always enjoyed cooking and everybody was like ‘you should just do that,’ so that’s what I did.”
Since opening in 2011 Morgillo and his staff have been creating recipes in the kitchen, some of which never make the menu.
“I’m trying to make some apple cider donuts,” said Tony Mangiofico, a line cook. “I just decided to do it.”
The recipe for the spontaneous donuts was jotted down in marker Wednesday on the fridge in the back next to other ideas.
Meanwhile, Morgillo was whipping up a batch of parmesan fries with a beer-style aioli sauce.
“We try to do your normal American stuff but just a little bit differently,” Morgillo said. “It’s not the same thing over and over.”
The menu includes bacon-wrapped hot dogs and a variety of burgers.
“My favorite thing to make is the El Diablo burger,” said Mangiofico of the popular spicy item.
The burger is layered with Pepper jack cheese, jalapeños, lettuce, tomato and chipotle mayo, with the option to add housemade pickled habanero slices for an extra kick.
Pulled pork burgers are also a popular request.
Line cook Patrick Begina shapes the patties and stuffs them with cheese before they are grilled.
“People like them,” he said.
Chicken wings are also on the menu along with a more unique variety of duck and pig wings.
“They’re pork shanks and they’re braised and deep-fried,” Morgillo said of the pig wings.
Morgillo said the restaurant is looking to expand into more wild game, like venison and elk.
“Just to let people try something they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to try,” he said.
The restaurant offers a rotating list of brews on 30 taps, several of which are from local breweries. Stouts are currently the popular choice this time of year, Morgillo said.
Along with an ever-changing list of local beers is a rotating display of pictures from local artists. Throughout the year different photographers hang up their pieces for sale with proceeds going towards organizations like the ASPCA.
The restaurant also donates to the Wallingford Animal Shelter through its annual “Pints for Pits” beer fundraiser.
“It’s like drinking in your buddy’s garage,” Morgillo said. “We’ve got to meet a bunch of awesome people over the years and customers turn to friends.”