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Slice of Paradise

Co-owners Dave and Carl of Front Street Pizza hone in on the quintessential pizza experience

Walking through the doorway of Front Street Pizza feels like a step back in time—a family pizza night after a school music concert, a celebration for a job well-done on a report card, a friend’s birthday party, a convenient take-out option after a busy day at the office. Melted cheese, red pepper flakes, the warm welcome of yeasty dough do all the work manager and part owner Carl Blotsky hoped for: a modern take on the classic pizza joint.

“I grew up on military bases, so I moved around a lot,” Carl explained. “My favorite place on one base was the pizza shop. We went there quite a bit.”

Later, as a high school student, Carl worked his first job as a buss-boy at a pizzeria.

He parlayed those childhood memories into a vision for Front Street Pizza.

“We wanted that classic, dimly lit, red-checkered tablecloth, arcade-in-the-back feel,” he said.

Pots of trailing vines hang from the ceiling; red-vinyled benches, waxed paper Pepsi cups, and packets of parmesan contribute to the retro vibe.

But the real star of the show is the pizza, available by the slice or full pie, the thin crust deliciously crisp on the bottom, made complete by fresh toppings and tangy tomato sauce.

“We kept it really simple, more simple than anyone would think. The core of making good pizza is the bread,” Carl said. “We have a phenomenal dough recipe—it’s that East Coast, thin-style dough.”

Customers from the eastern United States recognize the pizza’s New York City roots, thanks to founder and co-owner Dave Beaton, whose grandmother’s family emigrated to America from Italy.

“The family operated small neighborhood grocery stores in Boston and New York City. They baked and sold pizza in those stores,” Dave said. “I heard the stories from my grandma and I guess it always stuck with me.”

Like Carl, Dave’s first job was in a neighborhood pizzeria washing dishes.

“You kind of get absorbed by the pizza culture and it fills you with a lot of great experiences—the pizza, the people,” Dave explained. “There is a craft and tradition amongst all styles of pizza and I just felt drawn toward and inspired by the New York slice joints, many of which I visited in an effort to try to do right by those traditions.”

Front Street Pizza opened in early 2020, with Carl coming on board a few months later.

“By total luck and chance I noticed the shop one day. Just on a whim, I came in and applied,” Carl said. “As soon as I set foot in here, I fell in love.”

It’s not hard to see why. Front Street Pizza offers a fresh take on the classic pizzeria experience: “low-key, friendly, with really good pizza.”

“Pizza, more than anything, is a familial food,” Carl said. “Pizza is gathering around with good friends.”

Pizza may be, in fact, the universal language. A mural on one wall depicts Jesus and his followers eating pizza. A weekday lunch hour finds college kids, professionals, moms with kids, and a guy in a vintage Seattle Mariners jacket all grabbing slices and salads.

Twelve varieties grace the menu: classics like ‘Gio’s Cheese’ and ‘Brooklyn’ (pepperoni) as well as ‘Five Points,’ (pepperoni, sausage, onions, mushrooms, and black olives) or ‘Soho’ (ricotta, onions, mushrooms and black olives). The slice case offers six to eight options, including one or two specials. On Mondays through Thursdays, a Happy Hour boasts a deal on beer with the purchase of a slice (or two).

And while pizza places may, at first, feel like a dime-a-dozen, Carl says his goal is to offer a special, one-of-a-kind experience.

“I’ve eaten so much pizza. And a lot of it is kind of all the same,” he said. “A lot of it comes down to atmosphere. We have our own niche.”

That niche is crispy, thin-crust pizza, served hot and fresh, often by the slice—slices that never sit under a heat lamp but are rather rejuvenated in a special oven at 600 degrees—coupled with a small staff, managed with care. Like yeast working its way through a batch of dough, Carl said his team feeds off his mood and attitude and credits his business partner, Dave, with allowing him freedom in his management style.

And in that way—low-key, simple, tasty pizza coupled with first-rate customer service—Front Street Pizza found its “it factor.”

“Our vision is to be the go-to neighborhood spot. We know the names of people who come in. We like to be friendly with our customers,” he said. “We want them to feel good. We want to offer the best service, almost like a butler.”

Front Street Pizza is open daily at 315 E. Front Street and is available for delivery on DoorDash and GrubHub.

“There is a craft and tradition amongst all styles of pizza and I just felt drawn toward and inspired by the New York slice joints, many of which I visited in an effort to try to do right by those traditions.”