It ain't just pizza, it's Napolitano pizza.
That's what some people consider New York pizza, explains Johnny Bologna, a New York City native who runs Roadhouse Pizza and Wings with his wife, Heidi in Gem Village.
The couple is celebrating the first anniversary of their business at the Billy Goat Saloon with a Halloween party on Friday, Oct. 30 with a costume party and live music by the Ben Gibson band, and $10 one-topping pizzas all night. The winner of the costume contest wins a $50 bar tab.
But back to the pizza.
Bologna says he makes the best pizza around because he was raised in the city of great pizza. His brother and cousins ran pizzarias, and just about everybody in his neighborhood watched it being made and appreciated the flat crust that can be created only by making dough every day, then tossing it by hand, high in the air.
He also makes his own marinara sauce to top his pizza, as well as the ranch dressing for his jumbo chicken wings, baked in the oven then flash-fried to order. He then tops wings with his customer's choice of flavorings: hot, barbecue, parmesan, sweet and spicy, or hot parmesan.
"Everything is authentic," he says in his thick Bronx accent - he grew up in nearby Westchester. "The dough, the sauce, the fresh basil, the garlic rub, the little drizzle of olive oil."
Bologna serves the pizza to Billy Goat patrons, or customers can pick up either to-go pizza and wings, as well as take-and-bake pizza, which is cooked briefly in his 1940s-era pizza oven, then clients finish baking it at home.
The oven, complete with two huge flat stones inside that have been seasoning for 60-plus years, are another key to his authentic pizzas. They can cook a pizza in as little as six minutes, although he likes his own baked a little longer, seven or eight, "so it's extra crispy. I like it just a little burned, like barbecue." He fires up the ovens every afternoon about 2:30 p.m. to get them hot enough to cook at 4, when he opens.
He gives customers a brief history of pizza. The first were created in Naples on Italy's southern shore around 1870. Lombardi's in Littly Italy in New York was the first pizza place in the new world at the turn of the century, and from there, "it spread like wildfire," Bologna said, arms gesturing widely. "Pizza is like American now." But don't call that thick-crust variety authentic - it's not pizza, he emphatically stated.
"It's gotta have a thin crust. Most of that other stuff you get, it ain't pizza."
Although he insists his ingredients be fresh, he thinks bringing a take-and-bake home and letting it sit in the refrigerator for a day or two makes it taste even better.
"The flavors all blend together," he explains.
He ran a deli in Ignacio and another restaurant in Aztec before arriving at the Billy Goat a year ago when owner Ashleigh Tarkington needed a restaurant on the premises.
"It's a good fit with the bar," he said, although most of his business comes from to-go or the take-and-bake orders. "Business is steady."
Right now during pro football season, Roadhouse is open on Sundays and from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, then until 9 p.m. or so on Friday and Saturday.
After the Super Bowl, he'll be open evenings Tuesday through Saturday.
The Billy Goat customers give his creations a thumbs up, including a vegetarian (an anomaly in the Pine River Valley) who was picking up a to-go order recently for a vegetable pizza.
"It's the best in the Four Corners," he said.
Bologna countered loudly, "It's the best west of the Hudson River!" Then he added a hearty laugh.
Nobody argued with the thick-built restaurateur, so that settled that disagreement.
The favorite pizzas at the Roadhouse are the meat lovers, with pepperoni, ham, bacon, Italian sausage and Genoa salami, and the Wolverine, with barbecued beef or chicken, cheddar cheese, red onion, green chili and jalapeno. Pizzas cost $13, with $1 toppings, or $2 for steak or chicken.
House and Caesar salads are available as well, along with mozzarella sticks and pizza nachos, which are nacho chips with pizza toppings. There's a gluten-free pizza available, as well. Bologna shakes his head at the lack of authenticity, but customers wanted it, so he serves it.
Everyone is welcome to stop by next Friday for a deal on $10 pizza, he added.
For to-go orders, call 884-0313.