SALEM – “The staple of any American diet, any house, is pizza. Everybody eats pizza, whether it’s your three year old daughter, your ninety year old grandmother. Everybody likes pizza.”
Those are the words of George Tsatsis, pizza industry veteran and current co-owner of PZA in Salem, Massachusetts. PZA is a casual slice shop that serves the classic Greek style pizza in a modern setting.
“What I wanted my customers to experience was everything that they love in the mom and pop shop but comfortable,” George explained. “Eat your sandwich, hang out for 30 minutes, surf the web or whatever you’re doing, and enjoy your lunch.”
George grew up working for his dad at hometown favorite, Lynnfield House of Pizza.
“I was born into the pizza business,” George said. “My parents own pizza places. I grew up in the atmosphere. Pizza’s in my blood.”
He has taken all of those time-tested recipes he grew up on and created a menu with some modern touches.
“It’s unbelievable how the flavors come together on a pizza. I think the days of the traditional cheese and pepperoni are, you know, in the rear view mirror,” George said. “I think that as time goes by, people’s palates change. I think they’re interested in trying different things.”
Boy, are these pizzas different. There is an ode to the classic North Shore 3-Way sandwich, topped with roast beef, barbecue sauce, cheese and mayo; or one that takes your chicken parm out of the sub roll and onto a slice.
“So chicken parm is pretty much the most popular thing on most people’s Italian menus. What we did was we took a regular pizza crust, we added all the components of a great chicken parm on the pizza, stuck it in the oven. Comes out – the cheese is literally melting all over the pizza,” co-owner Steve Sampson described.
If you love all of the flavors you get at the golden arches, get yourself a slice of the pizza called the Big Mac Attack.
“Big Macs have been around for 50 years,” Steve said. “They’re around 50 years because people love them.”
“We got the pieces of hamburg on the inside, the diced lettuce, onions, pickles, and then we smother it with Thousand Island dressing. Take a bite into and you’re like, ‘Oh my god.’ It’s literally like you’re eating a Big Mac,” George added.
Another unlikely flavor bomb is PZA’s Pickle Pizza.
“You look at the components of it and you’re like, can this really taste great on the pizza? But guess what? When you taste it, it’s unbelievable,” Steve said.
“We couldn’t believe how clean tasting it was, such a nice finishing taste in your mouth. The dill, the fresh mozzarella go really nice with the pickle,” George described.
But if you ask him is favorite, George will tell you to get the Steak Tip Diablo pie.
“One of my favorite things was always eating steak tips with hot cherry peppers at your local pub. Putting it on a pizza is just as good. You get the spice from the hot cherry peppers, a little bit of steak tips. We cut them small, so they’re easy to eat and chewable, and there’s such a great flavor.”
If you want something more traditional, like a tried and true Greek pizza, they offer that too, loaded up with sliced tomato, Kalamata olives, spinach and feta.
Beyond pizzas, PZA has a massive menu of all of your favorite comfort foods. There are loaded waffle fries topped with plenty of cheese and crunchy bacon, and addictive wings with a variety of sauces to choose from. They offer Italian specialties like chicken parm over pasta and a fantastic blue cheese burger.
“We use a six ounce Angus burgers. We grill it to perfection. We put some blue cheese dressing on the bottom of the buttery toasted bun. On top of the burger we put some bacon, some crumbled blue cheese and Swiss on top of the whole thing,” George described.
If you have an awesome appetite, you need to get yourself a Belly Buster.
“I almost called it The Hangover Special,” George said. “It’s a cheese steak, almost a pound of steak. We take four mozzarella sticks, we chop them up, we put them inside the sub. We melt cheese on top of everything and we put marinara sauce on the top of that, some more grated cheese on top of that. You definitely won’t eat the rest of the day.”
With all of these creative slices and sandwiches to choose from, you’re going to want to eat every day at PZA.
You can find PZA at 331 Lafayette Street in Salem, and online at pzasalem.com.
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