Featured photo: The March pizza of the month at Pietro’s, which I was too busy eating to write down the name of, apparently.
Recently, I found myself getting re-acquainted with my old friend Giuseppe Filippazzo. One-half of the duo of brothers who run Pietro’s restaurants in Longview and Bossier City, Giuseppe (or “Joseph”) is the salesman of the duo. He’s a live wire and a born salesman, especially when discussing his family’s restaurants. The pizza and pasta shop, once a fixture at Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets, moved to 2119 Airline Drive in December 2014. During my recent visit to the new home of Pietro’s in Bossier City, Joseph showed me around while his brother Steven assisted customers. Giuseppe’s excitement about everything – right down to the cheese shakers – is palpable.
“See this? It’s not Parmesan,” Filippazzo said, grabbing a clear glass shaker from a nearby table. “It’s Pecorino Romano. No one else is offering you Pecorino Romano!” And, I admit, as far as cheese in a shaker goes – it was really good. It was better than Parmesan. It’s small differences like the kind of cheese in the shaker that add up, in my opinion, to some uncommonly good Italian food at this price point (pasta bowls are in the $7 range, pizzas start at $6 and top out around $22).
Their dad, at age 71, still drives in from Longview to make the Bossier location’s bolognese sauce. “He loves being in the pasta station,” Giuseppe says. Last time I visited with Steven and Giuseppe, dad still hadn’t written the recipe down – even they didn’t know it. Now, I’m told, “it’s on a thumb drive in a safety deposit box.” Giuseppe recommends ordering that bolognese sauce over angel hair pasta or penne. “Mama Rose,” matriarch of the Filippazzo family, shows up sometimes to greet customers as they come and go.
The thing about this place – and I say this as a fan of practically everything I have ever ordered there – is that it looks like a chain. The vibe is fast-casual, there’s a build your own pizza bar and the walls are adorned with the kind of enlarged family photos that you might find hung by a national chain in an attempt to add authenticity. But, when you’re at Pietro’s, the guy who’s making your pizza can point at that photo on the wall and say “That’s my grandmother.”
If you’re daunted by the prospect of building your own pizza (or, like me, you’d prefer that someone more talented than yourself do the cooking), ask about the Naples Gourmet Pizza of the Month. I had the March pizza (see the photo above), which featured San Marzano tomatoes, fontina cheese, sliced meatballs and no shortage of hot, sweet calabrese peppers. May’s pizza of the month will feature arugula and prosciutto, which sounds delicious. The Filippazzo brothers have yet to agree on a name for the May pizza.
“That’s a little thing,” Giuseppe Filippazzo says, ever the salesman. “But to us, those little things are huge.”