Restaurant now has a following among pizza lovers
Charleston Daily Mail
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
By ELAINE MCMILLION
DAILY MAIL STAFF
The Barone Brothers found their sanctuary in a place filled with fresh dough, plump meatballs and fresh chopped vegetables.
“I never want to dread going to work,” said Marc Barone, 39. “I love coming to work now.”
After working in finance for eight years, Marc said he was drained.
“I hated the office atmosphere,” Marc said. “It left me with a bad taste in my mouth.”
He quit his job and spent three years as a stay-at-home dad with his now 31/2 –year-old daughter, Tori.
Her picky eating gave him an idea.
An avid cook since he was 9, Marc found Tori’s pickiness to be an opportunity to experiment with new recipes. She liked pizza, so March started making his own dough and trying combination he thought would please the tot’s tiny taste buds.
Tori liked the pizza and so did Marc’s friends. Around that same time, his older brother Frank, a musician, was returning home after living in the Northwest for 10 years.
Both brothers were looking for a new start.
“The timing was right for both of us,” Marc said.
With the help of friends such as former plumber Pat Marchio and restaurant equipment professional Tom Miller, Frank and Marc got their business up and running in just 10 weeks.
The next task was learning how to make large quantities of their homemade dough. Marc and Frank went from using a bread machine that produced 2 pounds of dough to a machine to weighs 1,000 pounds and mixes 45 pounds of dough.
“We had never used a large-scale dough mixer before,” Marc said.
Added Frank, “We knew what we wanted to achieve, and we set about achieving it with no experience. But we did it.”
Now the Barone Brothers take pride in their distinctive crust and the blended seasonings sprinkled atop.
Frank and Marc make a trip to the produce store once or twice a week to handpick their fresh portabella mushrooms, onions, green peppers, garlic, sweet bell peppers, hot and mild banana peppers, black olives and pineapple. By handpicking their produce, the Barones hope to provide each customer with the freshest toppings available.
“We try not to chop until the day we use them,” Marc said. “One of the things I like the most is just making the pizza. We’re not trying to get too big, too quick. We want to stay local and stay fresh.”
Customer Curtis Lawson, 82, hopes the same.
He says he can’t get enough of their homemade meatball subs.
“I have to keep them in business,” he said.
The Dutch Road resident says he spends $300 to $350 a week eating out and for the last 20 years has eaten three meals a day across the road at Harding’s Restaurant. Now he has switched up his menu and is enjoying the homemade tastes from Marc and Frank.
“He’ll be here 20 years from now,” Lawson said, pointing to Marc.
“I hope so,” Marc replied smiling. But the brothers didn’t always think they would be running a business together.
Marc attended Charleston High School and played basketball and football, while Frank attended George Washington High School and played soccer.
Explained Frank, “It wasn’t that we didn’t get along, we just didn’t really spend a lot of time together.”
The two also have a younger sister, Elena, an attorney in Washington, D.C. Their parents just moved to Florida, though they’d be welcome to come back and help.
“Mom would be good on the cash register,” Marc said.
Marc hopes later to offer calzones, daily specials such lasagna, manicotti and baked ziti dinners and special breads. They are considering a delivery service, but believe their location is convenient both from the West Side and off Interstate 79’s Mink Shoals exit.
Customer satisfaction is easy to track. Marc says he has seen people stop in one day and come back the next three days. Frank says they’ve gotten a call 10 minutes after a customer has left to say the pizza was the best he ever had.
But the two brothers can’t take full credit for their food. They learned a lot eating at the table of their Italian grandmother, Yolanda, who passed away 10 years ago.
She preferred to cook alone, spending all day making fresh pasta and special dishes. But by 3 p.m. the whole table would be full and the family would be allowed in to feast.
“I would watch her as much as she’d let… before she would throw me out,” Marc said, laughing.
Their beloved grandmother was known for her meatballs. And even though they do not have her exact recipe, they say the meatballs are very close to being just like hers.
The restaurant is located just off the Mink Shoals exit of Interstate 79. It offers carryout and several tables for in-house dining.
The restaurant’s pizza ranges from an 8 inch to a 16 inch.
Specialty pizzas include Hawaiian, Meatball, Supreme, BBQ Chicken, Vegetarian and Mediterranean. They also sell fresh subs and salads, wings and breadsticks.
“Working for yourself, you work long hours and it’s tough, but it’s satisfying if it has your name on it,” Marc said.