Pepe’s Pizza: The slice is correct

Pepe’s Pizza: The slice is correct

Pepe’s pizza She was born in Charlotte, but her 18-inch New York-style pies might make you think otherwise. Co-owners Trey Wilson and Steven Di Falco took bread-making courses with Pizzaiolos on Long Island and tested 29 dough recipes before opening Pizza Pepe in Wesley Heights in early September. The result is flexible, thin-crust, foldable slices topped with locally sourced tomatoes, meats, and cheese.

Wilson is an industry veteran by Charlotte standards. He opened Customshop in Elizabeth 16 years ago and followed it up with Flour Shop in 2018. Both were the type of restaurant you would recommend to someone you want to impress with our local dining scene. Wilson’s handmade pasta and warm bread were so good, you’ll be dreaming of them weeks later.

The Flour Shop weathered the first months of the pandemic by offering to-go pizzas on its famous sourdough. He was the inspiration for Pepe’s Pizza, which Wilson and Di Falco opened under their joint venture, Art & Commerce Food Group. (They continue to operate the Flour Shop, but Wilson sold his majority stake in the Customshop in 2022.)

Charlotte, North Carolina, November 1, 2023 Baby West Pizza Company Owners Trey Wilson and Steven Di Falco The Mother Pizza You Don't Leave Without Trying: Rosemary Pistachio Pizza, Pecorino Pecorino, Shaved Red Onions, and Hot Honey Two Little J Sandwiches

Don’t leave without trying: The Rosemary Pizza ($27) is an 18-inch pie topped with pistachio pesto, pecorino, shaved red onions and hot honey.

In addition to seven signature pies, Pizza Pepe offers five sandwiches, three salads, seven appetizers and soft serve ice cream. The menu is not long or complicated because the owners know that pizza, salad and sandwiches do not need to be replenished. When the ingredients are this fresh, you don’t need an elaborate presentation or garnishes you can’t pronounce. Having an industrial space in a trendy neighborhood with skyline views certainly helps. But the smell of their fresh bread is enough to draw people in the door.

Wilson and Di Falco have more plans for the Art & Commerce Food Group, starting with a second location of Pizza Baby, scheduled to open this month in Elizabeth, next to the Customshop. They also plan to add an independent sandwich shop called Panino Bambino to their portfolio. Until then, their sandwiches will be available at both Pizza Pepe locations.

Charlotte, North Carolina, November 1, 2023 Baby West Pizza Company Owners Trey Wilson and Steven Di Falco The Mother Pizza You Don't Leave Without Trying: Rosemary Pistachio Pizza, Pecorino Pecorino, Shaved Red Onions, and Hot Honey Two Little J Sandwiches

Morti sandwich, with mortadella, burrata, and pistachio pesto.

Pizza Baby West’s dining room has a mix of tables and banquet seating, plus a 10-seat bar and an open kitchen where you can see the pizza makers at work. Outside, they have patio seating and a grassed area where kids can run around and parents can park their strollers and have drinks.

If you like a cocktail that’s fresh and not too sweet, try the Lemon-Thyme Spritz ($12) with Tito’s vodka, lemon thyme syrup, prosecco and soda. For something a little sweeter, order the El Diablo ($14), with El Jimador Blanco, Chambord raspberry liqueur, ginger beer, and jalapeño-agave syrup, which gives a hint of spice. The drinks menu also features a variety of red, white and sparkling wines. Amaros. Local and domestic beers.

Appetizers include burrata ($16) with pistachio pesto, Sicilian olive oil and sea salt. and meatballs ($16) with Joyce Farms pork and beef, filon (Italian sourdough) and Parmesan. If you must have vegetables, the Little Jim Salad ($12) and arugula ($10) are good choices.

Charlotte, North Carolina, November 1, 2023 Baby West Pizza Company Owners Trey Wilson and Steven Di Falco The Mother Pizza You Don't Leave Without Trying: Rosemary Pistachio Pizza, Pecorino Pecorino, Shaved Red Onions, and Hot Honey Two Little J Sandwiches

Starters include burrata with pistachio pesto, Sicilian olive oil, and sea salt.

It’s perfectly acceptable to go straight to the pizza. That’s why you came. Each feeds three or four people, but don’t let that stop you from ordering more than one and bringing home leftovers. The crust is evenly browned, with a few charred bubbles and a bread-like texture that gives it a distinct chew. The Mother ($22) is a classic cheese with red sauce. Think of it as a blank canvas and add toppings like pepperoni, fennel sausage, soppressata, or roasted mushrooms ($4 each). The Starsky ($28), topped with pepperoni, sausage, Calabrian chili peppers, oregano and mozzarella, is flavorful but not too heavy, with an impeccable crust-to-sauce ratio.

If you prefer white sauce, opt for the blanco ($26) with roasted garlic crema and sausage. The rosemary ($27) is the most complex of the Alzas, with pistachio and pecorino pesto, shaved red onions and hot honey. A swirl of pesto gives it a salty, herbaceous flavor, and a drizzle of honey adds some sweet heat to the savory base. Ask for more pesto or roasted pepper sauce for this crust, it’s too good to leave behind.

The soft serve ($3) comes in three flavors: chocolate, vanilla, and swirl. You can also make it “adult” and add a shot of amaro. You’ll probably need a box for the pizza you haven’t finished yet, but it makes a delicious breakfast — or a late-night snack if you can’t wait until the morning.

Taylor Bowler is lifestyle editor.

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