Capirano's Pizza and Catering has been on my radar for a LONG time. In fact, as I was going through my contact list earlier this week, I wondered if I was ever going to make it out there to try their take on Brier Hill-style pizza. Capirano's first came to my attention when I was doing research in connection with my meals at the Sunrise Inn in Warren, Ohio and Avalon Gardens in Youngstown, Ohio. Somehow a Google search managed to bring up their name in Newton Falls, Ohio, right off of Route 534. Today just happened to be one of those "blah" days, overcast and in the lower forties. I also happened to be in the Ravenna area with little to do and the thought that I needed to participate in something productive today rooted itself in my mind. When Capirano's popped into my head, I pulled it up on the GPS and within twenty minutes I had pulled into the tiny shopping plaza where the restaurant was located.
Speaking of location, Capirano's Pizza and Catering was located at 119 Ridge Road, Newton Falls, Ohio 44444 and can be reached at 330-872-3777. They also have a website located here. While there were about four businesses in the small shopping plaza, there was plenty of parking in the lot in front of the stores.
Here was a shot of the front of the store:
Once inside, I noticed two small tables. I got the sense that Capirano's was mostly a take-out and delivery joint, but as I found out after getting my pizza, the tables are available if you want to eat your pizza there. At the top of the front wall was the regular menu:
And to the right and below the window in the above picture was the daily specials menu:
While regular pizzas are available in 6", 12", 14" and sheet trays, the Brier Hill pizza (and I'm assuming all of the specialty pizzas) were only available in the three largest sizes. I opted for the 12" for $8.50 and was informed it would take about twenty minutes for my pizza to be ready. Knowing that I had no other place to be, I indicated that it wouldn't be a problem and opted to wait. Of course, my plan all along was to wait and have a chance to discover as much as I could about Capirano's version of Brier Hill pizza. I discovered that there was a common heritage between all three pizzas in usage of peppers and Romano cheese (instead of Mozzarella). That seems to be where the commonalities ended. It turned out that Capirano's uses the exact same pizza sauce on their Brier Hill pizza as their regular pizzas. Happily, their pizzas also turned out to be lightly sauced, similar to Avalon Garden's version rather than the thick layer that I had found at the Sunrise Inn.
I also asked about their pizza dough and the gentleman behind the counter assured me that the pizza dough was made fresh every day. While I didn't see any evidence of a floor standing mixer that a business of this size would need to make enough dough for daily orders, there was quite a bit of the kitchen I couldn't see because it curved around a corner in the back. Based on the flavor of the dough when I ate my pizza, however, I'd have to agree that it was homemade.
Entirely visible to customers, however, were the deck ovens used to cook the pizzas:
The process, as best I could document it, was that the pizza pans were brushed with oil before the pizza dough was pressed in. Sauce, toppings, and cheese were added and the pizza baked 95% of the way through in the deck ovens. At the very end, a spatula was used to free the mostly-cooked pizza from the pan where it spent about 15-20 additional seconds in direct contact with the actual deck itself, presumably to crisp up the crust slightly. It was then removed with a pizza peel and placed into a box, cut into the appropriately sized portions and handed to the customer:
As I sat down to eat this, I noticed steam rising out of the corners of the box. After opening the lid, I was rewarded with eight slices of Brier Hill-style pizza. Notice the gray mist on the right side of the next photograph ... that was steam:
I also noticed that my pie today had both red and green bell peppers on it, something that neither of the other two restaurants did. I picked up a slice and set it on a couple of napkins:
Honestly, it wasn't a bad slice of pizza. From a typical pizza perspective, I would've loved for the crust to be a little darker. I think that would've given the pizza a deeper depth of flavor. Sadly, a majority of Americans like their pizza crusts blond and this would definitely appeal to that demographic. With the use of the Romano cheese, this pizza definitely reminded me of its brethren at the two other pizza joints I've eaten at. The sauce, however, didn't do a whole lot for me. It wasn't that it was bad. It just wasn't as distinctive as the other versions. The pizza crust by itself had a decent enough flavor, but I also realized that it was being helped along by whatever kind of oil had been used to brush the bottom of the pizza pans.
I ate half of my pizza today (I was definitely hungry), packed up the rest and brought it home for an evening snack. Capirano's version of Brier Hill-style pizza wasn't bad, but it didn't capture the nuances and real balance of flavors that you get when you order a pie from Avalon Gardens. Then again, I didn't have to drive all the way to Youngstown in order to get one either, so there is that, too. Would I get another pie from them again? If I was in the area and didn't want to have to drive to downtown Youngstown ... definitely. I don't think that they are the definitive Brier Hill pizza, but sometimes being the only option in town can be a good thing.