Market Basket: Tony Sacco's brings coal-fired cooking to Mishawaka
Instead, an open-concept kitchen serves as a focal point for Tony Sacco's diners, who are treated to traditional thin-crust pizza from a nonconventional coal-fired oven in a sit-down casual family atmosphere.
"We are taking pizza back to the original way it was made hundreds of years ago," says Carrie Riepenhoff, general manager.
Tony Sacco's prepares everything fresh, and its pizza most closely resembles artisan-style pizza.
Located at Toscana Park, Tony Sacco's opened Wednesday with a 96-seat dining room and a bar that serves beer and wine. The restaurant caters to sports fans and families with several flat-screen televisions inside, and two patios reserved for outdoor seating in the spring.
Toscana Park is north of Cleveland and Gumwood roads, behind the Martin's-anchored Heritage Square. The complex, which also contains Villa Macri Ristorante, was purchased last year by Great Lakes Capital Development and contains several other tenants.
The centerpiece and main talking point of Tony Sacco's is clearly the anthracite-burning oven that heats to about 1,000 degrees.
Anthracite is a low-sulfur, high-carbon coal that is mined in Pennsylvania and burns clean with almost no smoke, explains Mark Harris, co-owner of the location that employs about 40.
This oven can bake a pizza in four to six minutes.
Restaurants such as Carriage House in South Bend and Venturi in Goshen have wood-fire ovens that create unique pizza flavors, too.
On Thursday, Harris and Riepenhoff allowed me the opportunity to don an apron and make my own pizza. I kneaded and stretched the dough before carefully tossing it in the air -- definitely the trickiest part of the whole process. (And the most fun!)
Once I sprinkled the cheeses and placed pepperoni on top, baking was quick-as-a-wink compared with a conventional oven or the time frame required for a deep dish.
The coal-fired oven creates a crispy crust without overcooking the toppings, but the kitchen staff has to keep a constant eye on the pizzas that come in individual as well as 12- and 16-inch sizes.
An average lunch for two will cost about $15 to $20. Dinner for four will generally cost between $30 and $40. The menu is available at www.tonysaccos.com.
This is only the ninth location for the growing Tony Sacco's restaurant company, which is based in Estero, Fla. It is the third Indiana location, with others in Carmel and Greenwood.
Harris does not hesitate in discussing future plans.
"We would definitely like to open another restaurant in the area," Harris says, noting how he has already been scouting potential sites. "America loves pizza."
Tony Sacco's also offers sandwiches, wraps, wings and Sacco's Shortcake, which is a signature mousse-filled dessert topped with fruit and whipped cream. It's warmed on the edge of the coal-fired oven.
"We've become almost an anchor for them here at Toscana," Harris says, "and we hope that along with the apartments and other businesses that we can help the whole center grow."
Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Read more about the continued development of Toscana Park in Sunday's Market Basket.
On the radio
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The segment will be featured at 8:52 a.m. weekdays with JT in the Morning on News and Sports Radio 960 AM and 96.1 FM on WSBT.
Have you heard?
After a month's winter hiatus, Maury's Pub, 901 W. Fourth St., Mishawaka, is reopening Wednesday. Owner Maury Cocquyt decided to close during what is generally considered the slowest time of year for restaurants. Maury's hours are 3 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. He plans to add back Monday and Tuesday hours in early May. ... Better World Books Outlet Store, located at 55740 Currant Road, Mishawaka, is holding a Teachers Box sale on Saturday. Reservations are required for the event, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Teachers can pack a $10 box of children's books for their classrooms. E-mail Mary Olson at email@example.com.
Heidi Prescott's column runs in the South Bend Tribune on Fridays and Sundays. When she's not shopping, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-235-6070. You can also talk retail at Facebook.com/thebasket and at Twitter.com/marketbasket.