Pizzerias slice it up their way
There’s no doubt that pizza is a popular food item in the United States, with over 70,000 pizzerias and about 350 slices eaten per second. Many of these slices are being eaten in Haywood County, where locals have a variety of options, each with their own unique spin.
Maggie Valley Inn Pizzeria / Rendezvous
Most people won’t have heard of Maggie Valley Inn Pizzeria, but that’s because most people will know it as Rendezvous. It’s a restaurant in a restaurant, aiming to provide a variety for their customers. Pizza has only been available from them for around a year, when Garlic Knots closed and the owner, Stan Hartman decided to join Rendezvous, bringing all of his knowledge and experience to the table with him.
“We brought Garlic Knots in and made it part of the family,” Mike Eveland, the restaurant manager, said. “When you get a pizza from us, you know it’s going to be special.”
Hartman's experience paid off. Hand-tossed pizzas were added to the menu, cooked in brick ovens and made with fresh ingredients. All of the dough is fresh, and the sauce is their own recipe. So even though people come to Rendezvous for things like bulk fried chicken, people will be coming to Maggie Valley Inn Pizzeria for the new favorites.
The Maggie Valley Special is probably the most ordered, with a wide variety of toppings including pepperoni, ham, ground beef, italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, black olives, and extra cheese.
“It’s the handtossed and homemade recipes that separate local restaurants from chain restaurants,” said Beth Reece Robinson, owner of Rendezvous.
There are many ways to enjoy the pizza too, whether it’s stopping in for an evening dinner with family or booking a party in advance. There’s no concern about the number of guests - since it’s attached to a convention center, the restaurant can hold up to 250 people.
They even offer a special touch. An option for Make Your Own Pizza is available so that kids or young-at-heart adults can make their own pizza, with encouragement from the staff to make something unique. If dining in isn’t an option, then delivery is offered throughout Maggie Valley and Jay Creek.
The owners of Bocelli’s, Robert and Ellen Schattie, have a passion for Italian food, and when they opened the restaurant around eight years ago, they decided to bring their experience living in New York City to local Waynesville.
The pizza is made with fresh dough and all-local ingredients, hand-tossed and cooked made to order in a brick oven. The chef, Shawn McCoy, has been working with Bocelli’s for five years and won’t use any other kind of oven to make pizza.
“Brick oven is kind of like a cast-iron pan. It gives flavoring and seasoning as you go,” McCoy said.
Customer satisfaction is one of the highest goals of Bochelli’s with options to build your own pizza and a Pizza of the Month for customers to give a try. Their sanitation scores remain consistently high, currently at a 99 out of 100, something that McCoy prides himself on. And for Bocelli’s, part of the customer satisfaction is making sure their employees are also satisfied.
“It’s a feel of the environment we operate in,” McCoy said. “There’s not a shift or day that goes by that one of the owner or managers aren’t there. We work closely with our staff and try to promote a family atmosphere. We’re here to let you know that someone is right there with you, no matter what, and I think that rolls over to the customers. People can tell when the staff is happy to be at work.”
Bocelli’s will be opening a new restaurant soon in Asheville called Chef’s Apron. In Waynesville, though, the fan-favorites seem to be the Margherita pizza, made with garlic oil based, Buffalo mozzarella, diced roma tomatoes, parmesan, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic, or the Palmero, made with baby spinach, artichoke hearts, crumbled feta cheese, chopped garlic, diced roma tomatoes, and flaked oregano.
Angelo’s is a well-known establishment in the Waynesville area, recently named number one in Reader’s Choice for pizza in The Mountaineer. Owned by Wilma and Rick Hansen since January of 1995, the restaurant has actually been in Haywood county for almost twenty years.
The couple had been visiting the restaurant for years, and they were thrilled with the opportunity to take over the business.
“We always anticipated owning a McDonald's, to be honest,” Wilma Hansen said.
It’s signature style and a family atmosphere that the Hansens try to provide for Angelo’s. All pizzas in the establishment are baked in squares, with a sign in the front of the restaurant warning guests that requests for round pizzas are unlikely to be taken.
The pizzas are Chicago-style and all ingredients are fresh, even the sausage and ground beef, which is prepared raw and seasoned by the cooks. The cheese, rather than the typical parmesan, is a Romano cheese and blended in the restaurant. Despite this, the fan favorite seems to be the garlic balls, an italian bread roll dipped in garlic, butter, and basil.
The family atmosphere is reinforced with smiles at the counter from Crystal Hansen, the couple’s daughter who has been working in the store since she was eleven.
“Our kids went to school here, and we’re very proud of some of the kids we’ve seen growing up with us.” Wilma said. “For some of them, this has been their first job. It’s just a good family-oriented situation.”
Nick and Nate's
Nick and Nate’s has been located on main street of Waynesville for nine years, offering pizza to the surrounding area. With everything made from scratch, it’s easy to produce pizzas like the Nanahalla, which is a vegetarian pizza, to offering a gluten-free pizza for the allergic or weight-conscious.
Pizza isn’t the only thing offered, since things like burgers with hand-made patties are on the menu as well as a buffet served every day but Saturday. It’s fitting that, since the name comes from owner Patrick Ewart’s two kids, Nick and Nate, the restaurant should be family-oriented.
“We’re a tight-knit staff.” Jason Mahaffey, the restaurant manager, said. “We’re like a family ourselves, that way we can work better with the regulars and the tourist. We try to keep everything upbeat, from the way we serve to the way we work with the customers.”
The restaurant also tries to work closely with the local community. For example, any beer served in-house is hand-crafted only and preferably local, though they do occasionally reach out to the Asheville and Hendersonville area.